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How Sambo Helped Young Cork Hurler After Laochra Gael Aired

2 April 2022; Armagh manager Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton during the Allianz Hurling League Division 3A Final match between Tyrone and Armagh at Derry GAA Centre of Excellence in Owenbeg, Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
By PJ Browne Updated
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Sambo McNaughton says getting to help a young hurler from Cork who had a speech impediment is "one best thing that's happened to me in the last couple of years".

Last year, TG4 aired one of the most powerful episodes of its Laochra Gael series. In it, hurling legend McNaughton revealed the shocking abuse he had been subjected to by teachers due to a speech impediment. It was the first time he had spoken about the abuse.

"I did a Laochra Gael, and after it aired, my own daughter came to me and said she didn't know anything about it," the Antrim man told the BBC's The GAA Social podcast.

"I got a lot of feedback from that programme. A lot of kids throughout Ireland had it, and their parents phoned me, told me how it had affected their own kids seeing [the programme].

"One young lad from Cork, his club was in a final. He stopped going to training. He was captain. His whole personality changed.

"After the programme, his mother made contact with me. I actually ended up getting him into training with the Cork team for a night.

"He wouldn't train because he knew they were going to win the final and didn't want to make a speech. So he stopped going to training, stopped going to matches.


"[That kid] loved hurling. I'm friends with Kieran Kingston. I phoned him and asked if they'd let him go training. Kieran took him to a Cork training [session]. He talked with Patrick Horgan. I organised that from Cushendall.

"Watching the programme helped him and changed him. His mother is still in contact with me."


Read Also: GAA Fixtures: The Weekend's Big Gaelic Football And Hurling Games, And How To Watch Them

This week's discussion with Thomas Niblock and Oisin McConville was just the second time ever that McNaughton has spoken publicly about his childhood speech impediment and the maltreatment to which he was subjected.

"To sit here and open up like this, it's not something I do or have done," he said.

"It's not something that sits well with me, but the fact I do know there a side effect to this... That programme taught me there might be a child out there [with a speech impediment].


"To not be able to communicate is one of the hardest things you can have.

"If I can help one child out there, like the kid in Cork - that was the best thing that's happened to me in the last couple of years."

See Also: 'He Told Us Before We Played Cork That Clare Were Going To Win The All-Ireland'

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