Corofin and Galway football maestro Kieran Fitzgerald.

Former Athlone garda to feature on Laochra Gael

The Laochra Gael series returns to TG4 this Thursday, January 13 - with former Galway football star Kieran Fitzgerald set to be profiled next month.

The profile of Fitzgerald, a former Athlone-based garda, will be shown on Thursday, February 10 at 9.30pm.

Fitzgerald burst onto the scene in 2001, winning the All-Ireland with Galway and an All-Star at just 20 years of age. A few years later, he was dealt a crushing blow when his girlfriend Mairéad Meehan (herself a member of a famous sporting family) lost her battle with cancer.

Under a cloud of grief following Mairéad’s passing, Kieran’s love for the game declined. He eventually found rejuvenation with his club, Corofin, performing heroics to win an extraordinary three All-Ireland club titles in a row in his late thirties.

Remarkably, Fitzgerald has won 14 Galway senior titles with Corofin.

In addition to Kieran, other participants in the show will include Michael Meehan, Emer Flaherty, Gary Sice, Stephen Rochford, Sean Moran and Máire Ní Bhraonáin.

The new series of Laochra Gael starts with the extraordinary story of Antrim hurler Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton this Thursday night.

As a boy, Sambo suffered exclusion because of his speech impediment. He found release on the playing field, but the life of a hurler was perilous in the North in the eighties.

Because of his fame as a player, he was targeted for assassination by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). In spite of all of this, Sambo became the heartbeat of the team that pulled off one of the biggest shocks in GAA history when defeating Offaly in the 1989 All-Ireland semi-final.

The subject of the fourth profile in the new series will be former Limerick goalkeeper Joe Quaid, who had a spell as Westmeath manager in recent times, guiding the county to Division 2A league success.

The other personalities who will be profiled are Michael Darragh Macauley (Dublin), Sue Ramsbottom (Laois) and Johnny McGurk (Derry) - see list below.

The series finale on McGurk - charting the rise and fall of the Derry footballer - should be particularly fascinating.

McGurk will always be remembered in his home county as the man who kicked the winning point in the 1993 All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, on the way to the first and only Sam Maguire Cup success in Derry’s history.

When he retired from playing, though, Johnny’s life fell apart. In the grips of a gambling addiction, McGurk stole over £500,000 from his employers. When he was found out, his marriage ended, he faced public shame and finally he was sent to prison.

Laochra Gael Series (all shows at 9.30pm)

Programme 1: Terence ‘Sambo’ McNaughton, Thursday 13th January.

Programme 2: Michael Darragh Macauley, Thursday 20th January.

Programme 3: Sue Ramsbottom, Thursday 27st January.

Programme 4: Joe Quaid, Thursday 3rd February.

Programme 5: Kieran Fitzgerald, Thursday 10th February.

Programme 6: Johnny McGurk, Thursday 17th February.