Sambo's Laochra Gael episode may be the most powerful GAA documentary there is 1 year ago

Sambo's Laochra Gael episode may be the most powerful GAA documentary there is

A man who quite literally let his hurling do the talking.

Last night TG4 launched a new series of Laochra Gael, with the first episode starring none other than Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton.


The Antrim legend, opens up about his childhood, and his horrific dealings at school where he was physically and verbally abused by the teachers due to his speech impediment.

He regales the story of being made stand in front of the entire class and read out loud, while the teacher smacked him in the back of the head every time he stuttered, with his classmates laughing at him.

Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

He only found solace when he a hurl in one hand, and a sliotar in the other, spending hour upon hour hitting it against the wall and back to himself.

Despite desperately trying to hide, and stay away from confrontations that might involve him needing to speak, like going to the shop for sweets, or asking a girl out, the spotlight began to shine on Sambo for all the right reasons.

As he began to star for his club, Cushendall, people started to take notice, and at the age of 16 he was playing senior hurling for not only his club, but his county as well.


From there he played a pivotal role in the famous Antrim side of the late '80s and early '90s, bringing unprecedented success to the Ulster county, and making the rest of the country stand up and take notice of this hurling team in north.

The documentary also delves into the difficulties that GAA members had to face in the north back then, with the army patrolling the streets, and actively associating people who carry hurls as hardened Republicans or IRA supporters.

McNaughton talks about the time he and his wife were heading to a disco in Ballymena, only to be pulled over by the army, who then took four hurls they found in his car boot, and snapped them in front of him while laughing.


They kept the couple there, waiting in the car, and they eventually just had to turn and go home without even getting to the dance - punished for simply being associated with a sport.

However, no amount of stutters, bullying teachers, sectarian violence or any other exterior hurdles, would stand in the way of Sambo and the hurling pitch.

This Laochra Gael is a story of relentless determination, and an unwavering will to never give up, or let others dictate to you how your life should be.

Dublin's Brian McMahon is tackled by Terence McNaughton at Parnell Park 11/5/97 Photograph Ray McManus SPORTSFILE

If you have a spare hour in the day or evening, then take the time to watch this fantastic documentary, and you will not regret it.

Be warned though, you will experience every emotion there is to feel, from empathy to happiness, rage to laughter, and any other feelings in-between.

Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton struggled his whole life to be speak, and now he can't be ignored.