Laochra Gael on TG4 is arguably the best and most enduring Irish sports documentary ever made.
Now in its 18th series, it’s hard to believe there has never been one episode dedicated to a Laois GAA person.
We’re not a multiple All Ireland winning county in either code and our great days in Croke Park are unfortunately far too rare.
But Laois as a county has produced many great footballers and hurlers over the years, and many that have made a big impact in Laois and beyond.
The latest series started in recent weeks and we’ve seen great episodes on Kieran Donaghy from Kerry, Wexford’s Diarmuid Lyng and Dublin’s Alan Brogan. Last year there were great shows on Kieran Duff (Dublin), Rena Buckley (Cork), Seamus Darby (Offaly) and Andrew O’Shaughnessy (Limerick).
And while we can think of many great Laois people over the years that would be worthy of Laochra Gael treatment, top of any list has to be Pat Critchley, the county’s first ever All Star and a man who has made such a massive contribution to sport in the county – in hurling, football, ladies football and basketball.
While video footage of his playing career might be limited, there has to be enough – and no shortage of contributors to speak highly of him.
His career has been so wide and varied – with new chapters being added even still, 35 years on from his All Star award in 1985.
His career achievements include:
- All Ireland club winner with Portlaoise footballers in 1983
- Centenary Cup finalist with Laois hurlers in 1984
- Leinster hurling finalist with Laois and All Star award winner in 1985
- Holder of multiple Laois senior hurling and football medals with Portlaoise
- Won a Limerick senior football title with Thomond College
- Laois senior hurling manager in mid 1990s
- Laois minor hurling manager in 2010s
- Managed Eire Og of Carlow to Leinster club title in 1998, beating Kilmacud Crokes after three games before losing to Joe Kernan’s Crossmaglen Rangers in All Ireland semi-final
- Managed Laois ladies footballers to two Leinster titles in 2006 and 2007
- Managed IT Carlow to first ever Sigerson Cup final – beating teams managed by Kieran Donaghy, Billy Morgan and Michael Murphy.
- Played National League basketball with Portlaoise in the 1980s
- Helped build a schools basketball dynasty with Scoil Chríost Rí in Portlaoise winning multiple All Irelands and bringing them to a handful of World games
- Part of the management team that guided Scoil Chríost Rí to first All Ireland ‘A’ post primary ladies football title.
That above list probably leaves out as much as it includes.
And as well as all of that he was part of the Mere Mortals band that played in Féile 1990 in Thurles – and has written two books, Hungry Hill and Bruno.
So though there are no shortages of legendary GAA people across the country worthy of the Laochra Gael treatment, you’d be hard pressed to find someone to argue that Pat Critchley isn’t deserving.
Come on TG4 – make it happen!!