Guiney, David (1921–2000), athlete, sports journalist, sports historian, and author, was born 31 January 1921 in Kanturk, Co. Cork, one of four sons of John Guiney, solicitor and nationalist MP for Cork North (1913–18), and Mary Guiney (née Buckley) of O'Brien St., Kanturk. Guiney was educated locally and later attended TCD, although he did not complete his degree, deciding instead to join the civil service. As a young man he played Gaelic football, hurling, and rugby for his native Kanturk, and later played rugby with Clontarf in Dublin. Although he competed well in sprinting and the long jump (tying for the 1941 NACA senior long jump championship with the great all-rounder Kevin O'Flanagan (1919–2006)), his main athletic forte was in field events, and in 1941 he achieved the unique distinction of winning national junior titles in five different disciplines: the shot put, javelin, discus, high jump, and broad jump. Unfortunately his athletic peak coincided with the second world war, and he was confined almost exclusively to domestic competition. A member of the Civil Service, Dublin University, Clonliffe Harriers, and Donore Harriers athletic clubs, he went on to win a total of thirty Irish titles, the last in 1956, and was twice AAA shot-put champion (1947, 1948). He also represented Ireland in the 1948 Olympics, and at international level (1946–56), developing a reputation for breaking his own Irish shot-put record almost every time he competed. His explosive speed (a legacy of his sprinting days), natural strength, and athleticism made up for a self-confessed lack of technique; he never managed to break the 50 ft (15.24 m) barrier, but he did set a national record of 49 ft 10 in. in 1953 that stood for ten years.
Although he was a formidable athlete by Irish standards, his lasting legacy is his contribution as a prolific and authoritative sports writer and researcher. In 1946 he resigned from his post in the civil service after being refused leave to represent Ireland in the European Championships in Oslo. Shortly afterwards he embarked on a career as a journalist, initially with the Irish Independent (becoming a staff sub-editor) and subsequently as sports editor of the Irish Press in 1964. He also worked for a number of now-defunct British Sunday papers, including the Sunday Graphic, Empire News, Reynolds’ News, and Sunday Dispatch. In the early 1970s he moved to the Sunday Mirror as Irish sports editor, while remaining based in Dublin, and wrote a regular column for the Cork Evening Echo. He is almost certainly Ireland's most prolific sports writer, publishing over thirty books on a wide variety of sports, including Gaelic games, rugby, soccer, golf, and – perhaps most famously – the Olympic games. He also wrote four books of sporting reminiscences: A little wine and a few friends (1976), The days of the little green apples (1976), Good days and good friends (1985), and Happy hours (1994), which were all written in his usual gentle and elegant style. His books on the Olympic games included The friendly Olympics (1982), written about the 1932 games; and Ireland and the Olympic games (1976), which – along with subsequently revised editions entitled Ireland's Olympic heroes and Gold/silver/bronze – chronicled the exploits not only of Irish athletes who competed in the Olympics under the Irish flag but of many Irish-born competitors who competed for other nations. His extensive research and enthusiasm brought to light the Irish connections of many forgotten Olympic champions, including figures such as John Pius Boland (qv), the Irish-born winner of the first Olympic singles tennis title; and Con O'Kelly (qv), the 1908 Olympic heavyweight wrestling champion; to name just two. In his lifetime he was acknowledged as Ireland's foremost authority on the Olympics. His interest and fascination for the Olympics, together with his status as one of Ireland's most respected journalists, led to his being appointed press attaché of the Irish team at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. He was also heavily involved in journalistic politics, serving as chairman of the Association of Sports Journalists of Ireland (ASJI), and being prominent in the International Sports Press Association, and the International Association of Olympic Historians (ISOH) as well as being a former chairman of the Rugby Writers of Ireland. He was also a prime mover in the establishment and development of many Irish sports awards, including the All-Stars and the All-Star Player of the Month scheme.
A talented and entertaining after-dinner speaker and raconteur, he was frank about his own battle with alcoholism, always displayed a genuine love for all sports and those involved in them, and had a wide circle of friends both among sports writers and sportspeople. A proud Corkman, he never lost contact with his Kanturk roots, naming his Dublin home ‘Duhallow’ after the barony in which his native town was situated. He died after a short illness in the Mater Hospital on 14 October 2000, and was cremated after a funeral service in St Mary's Church of Ireland, Howth.
He married (1947) Phyllis (‘Phyl’) Ludgate from Dublin, a relation of the Irish champion weight thrower Tom Ludgate; they had three children.