Noel O’Leary at the launch of TG4’s new series of ‘Laochra Gael’ at Light House Cinema in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Cult Cork footballer to feature on tv series

One of the best GAA sports series is back on our screens next week showing another 8 legends of the sport.

The 21st series of ‘Laochra Gael’ returns to TG4 and among the 8 is a Cork cult hero. He was never one of the most famous Cork footballers but Noel O’Leary was always a favourite for Cork football fans.

Other stars covered include Kerry footballer Aidan O’Mahony, Kilkenny camogie legend Anne Dalton, Mayo footballer Tom Parsons, Waterford footballer Aine Wall, Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy and Donegal footballer Anthony Molloy. The 1st episode on next Thursday 26 January at 9.30pm features Galway’s Joe Canning, one of the best hurlers to play the game. Each episode is an hour long, bringing each player’s personal stories to screen.

They have left the best for last though, with Noel O’Leary’s story coming as the series finale. The Corkman was known as a hard man of football. Throughout the rivalry between Cork and Kerry earlier this century, it was the clash of Noel and Paul Galvin that drew the most attention.

But behind the public image, Noel had been through unthinkable tragedy. In the space of a year and a half at the turn of the century, he lost his best friend, his cousin and his brother. He overcame these terrible losses, finding a solace of sorts when he won the All Ireland in 2010.

Uachtarán CLG, Larry McCarthy said he is looking forward to the latest series: “Excellence in Gaelic games coverage has been a hallmark of TG4 and the ‘Laochra Gael’ series has been another manifestation of this. Over many years the series has built a strong following through their diverse and compelling stories of players who have helped grow the popularity of our games.”

TG4's Director General, Alan Esslemont said: “Irish audiences love to watch live sport, especially Gaelic games, and we understandably see GAA, LGFA and Camogie players as the superb athletes they are on the pitch, skilled, talented and brilliant sportswomen and sportsmen.

“But all of these athletes also have human lives which are connected with yet independent from their sport. The strength of the ‘Laochra Gael’ series is the storytelling of these human lives, their highs and their lows, powerful, moving, heart-warming, heart-breaking and always compelling.”

Episode 8 on Noel O’Leary is on at 9.30pm on Thursday 16 March.