The title of Mick O'Dwyer's autobiography is apt. The Watervilleman was a talented gaelic footballer, blessed to have been born in a county where All Ireland success is seen as a right.

As a player he sampled September success on four occasions, while also picking up eight National League medals. He also had the honour of managing Kerry to eight All Ireland victories and, in reading his memoirs, that figure, according to the Micko's sideline view, could have been 11 if the ball had bounced the right way.

Today, aged 72, Dwyer is still obsessed with the game and now finds himself at the helm of Wicklow, where he has undertaken the task of reviving the fortunes of the Garden county. Kildare and Laois also came under his tutelage and famines of a sort were ended when provincial success came their way.

His autobiography, written in association with Martin Breheny, recalls many of the famous clashes that have taken place over the last 30 years, and in particular the Dublin-Kerry rivalry of the 1970s. When O'Dwyer took over as Kerry manager in early 1975, Heffo's Army were in full voice, having won the All Ireland in '74, while Cork were kingpins in Munster, and impressively brought Sam back to Leeside in '73.

O'Dwyer sought to restore 'order' and assembled a young and carefree set of players that trained diligently in advance of the '75 championship. That September they qualified for the All Ireland final and the Dubs lay in wait.

The latter were warm favourites to follow up on the previous year, but had no answer to Kerry's slick passing movements and were well beaten. And so began a series of finals that involved two giants of the game. O'Dwyer chronicles each of their meetings while he was in charge; classic matches that often turned on small events; a rivalry that breathed new life into the GAA.

The characters involved quickly became household names, men who were equally talented both on and off the field. Eventually time caught up with the Dublin team and Kerry chalked up four All Irelands on the trot. 1982 saw Kerry attempt a five-in-a-row; a feat never achieved before in the history of the GAA. O'Dwyer speaks candidly about the hype that engulfed the county as final day approached and the meeting with an improving Offaly side.

Five-in-a-row songs were written and various memorabilia were on sale in shops. And to finally put the cart before the horse, the details of the victory parade on the Monday night were outlined. A Seamus Darby goal in the dying throws of an absorbing final broke Kerry hearts and the Faithful rejoiced.

The feeling was one of emptiness and shock in the immediate aftermath but time is a healer and 25 years on O'Dwyer offers up a more pragmatic response; "it was only a game of football". This goes against the grain of the man the public knows and perhaps it is his way of dealing with a crushing defeat. Mick O'Dwyer simply cannot live without football. After 1982, Kerry regrouped and he masterminded a three-in-a-row of All Ireland successes (1984-86). Both Kildare and Laois were in the doldrums before he took over, but he immediately instilled a new found confidence into both counties.

Kildare qualified for an All Ireland final in 1998 but lost out to a swashbuckling display by Galway, inspired by Michael Donnellan and Padraig Joyce. Indeed O'Dwyer's record against the maroon and white, as either a player or a manager, is not good, yet he is a fan of the tradition that the westerners bring to the game. Indeed, he was sought out about taking on the Galway job in 2006, but declined.

His time with Laois brought instant success with an appearance in the League final and a Leinster title. Yet they never kicked on, something that now disappoints O'Dwyer. He mentions the injury crises that plagued the team and some debatable refereeing decisions that cost Laois victory in the 2005 Leinster final against Dublin. Perhaps most annoying was the accusation that the training methods he employed in Laois during his third year there were "somewhat old hat". He thought about walking away at that point.

There was even talk about him taking over in Dublin, a job he would surely have relished. Whether the Dublin fans would have taken to a culchie at the helm is another point, but O'Dwyer makes no secret of the fact that All Ireland success would have been visited on the capital by now if the job was offered to him. He remained on at Laois, but they never recaptured the form of 2003, and O'Dwyer quietly slipped away after their championship defeat to Mayo in 2006.

Wicklow then came calling and so began another chapter in the life of this successful Kerryman, who over the years has managed a thriving hotel business. He is also an undertaker and had his own garage.

At an early age he knew how to make a shilling. O'Dwyer recalls the time when he got his first football. Indeed he was the only young lad to have such a possession in his locality and so he formed his own 'football club'. If you wanted to join you had to pay young O'Dwyer a sum of money. Over time, the funds built up and a second ball was acquired. Mick O'Dwyer the businessman was on his way.

Success undoubtedly brings confidence and the most successful manger in the history of gaelic football is certainly not shy in having his say. His autobiography is at pains to point out his dislike of GAA officialdom and the often scandalous ways the players are treated, in his opinion.

If he had his way the profits of the Association would be carved up equally between players and officials. His stance on this and other issues, including his belief that more GAA grounds should now be open to foreign games, has not endeared him to top brass in Croke Park, but O'Dwyer remains steadfast in his views. It makes the autobiography a refreshing read, as he also casts his net wider than the GAA by highlighting the worrying 'drink culture' in Ireland.

The Kerryman also had a view on the late Charlie Haughey. Like many O'Dwyer was aware of his flaws, but saw the good he did for the country. However, he once disappointed the then Taoiseach when he declined an opportunity to run for Fianna Fáil in Kerry South.

Haughey did put pressure on O'Dwyer to put his name forward, but that would have meant scaling back of his management career. The sanctuary of the sideline either in Croker or Killarney won out over the chamber in Dáil Eireann. Haughey was not pleased and O'Dwyer was all too aware of his displeasure.

This autobiography perfectly captures a man who seems intent on working to his own agenda and, while it is a little repetitive at times in relation to match facts and locations, the honesty and frankness of its author makes for an enjoyable read, if only to remind readers of some classic matches and how some hitherto footballing strongholds awoke from their slumber.  

James McMahon