Éire Óg's Áine Cronin is happy to be called an ‘Underdog’

Former Cork underage player is part of the squad for the TG4 show 'The Underdogs'
Éire Óg's Áine Cronin is happy to be called an ‘Underdog’

Áine Cronin who has been selected on the Underdogs squad.

ÉIRE Óg club player Áine Cronin has been selected on the Underdogs football squad who will play a one-off game against a prominent ladies football team in December.

A new series of the popular TV programme started on TG4 recently and the show will be broadcast every Thursday night in the run-up to the big match next month. The programme charts the beginning of the players' journey which features their in-house trial games and challenges games all the way up to the live game against the senior inter-county team.

The Eire Óg club player successfully emerged through several trial games to make the final squad. Áine is thrilled with her selection on the Underdogs panel.

“I am delighted and so proud to have made the final squad. I will work hard and do my best. I will represent my club to the best of my ability. I am very excited and I can’t wait to get going,” the talented player said.

She is one of three Cork players to have made the final squad. She is joined by St Val’s player Aoife Plunkett and Passage West player Rachel Sheehan.

The concept of the Underdogs series is to provide an opportunity for talented club players from all over the country to train over several months before they compete against an elite inter-county panel in a one-off game. The concept appeals to determined players who are not currently part of their county's senior inter-county panel to join their Underdogs team.

It also provides the player with an opportunity to showcase their talents to the inter-county management team and perhaps in some cases to prove a point if they feel they deserve a place on their inter-county set-up.

Áine, who turned 24 in July, saw the online link last year which evoked a determination in her to fulfil her undoubted potential on the national stage. 

Áine Cronin, Éire Óg, under pressure from Rebecca Kirwin, Portlaoise, in the Féile in 2011. Picture: Dan Linehan
Áine Cronin, Éire Óg, under pressure from Rebecca Kirwin, Portlaoise, in the Féile in 2011. Picture: Dan Linehan

“I have watched the programme with great interest over the years and I saw the link last year looking for club players to register their interest. I think it is a great idea and it provides a huge opportunity for club players who want to improve. 

I had played underage football for the various Cork teams so I thought I might as well go for it. I was one of the 600 players to apply late last year. 

"It was cancelled last year due to Covid-19 concerns. I kept fit by running during the lockdown as I was determined to seize the opportunity when it came.” 

The dual star successfully came through two trial games that were held in order to finalise the Underdogs squad. She beat off very stiff competition from hundreds of top club players nationwide to cement her place in the Underdogs matchday squad. 

"There were two trial sessions held in Kildare and Dublin respectively. The standard was very high. There was very little time on the ball and the physicality was very intense. 

"Playing in front of the cameras doesn’t factor at all as when the games are on you don’t even think about the filming process. However, it was a very nerve-racking experience waiting on the news that you were selected on the panel. I was brought upstairs where the three mentors delivered the good news that I had been successful in my application.”

ICONIC

Former Cork football star Valerie Mulcahy has previously served as a mentor with the Underdogs. This year’s mentors are former Donegal footballer Kevin Cassidy, Kerry coaching supremo Mickey Ned O’Sullivan and former Waterford footballer Michelle Ryan. 

“The three mentors have so much experience and knowledge. We will be playing clubs from all around the country in preparation for the big game next month. There is a big commitment involved as it requires a lot of travelling. 

"We are due to play a senior inter-county team in December which will probably be this year’s All-Ireland champions. This will be a daunting test but it presents us with a challenge that we have to fully focus on.” 

There are several different rules players must meet before they apply for the Underdogs team. This year, one such rule stipulated that a player could not have played for their inter-county team at an adult level in the last five years. She last played for the Cork footballers at minor level and has great memories of her time playing with the underage teams. 

I have great memories of my time playing with the various Cork underage teams. 

"I was fortunate to have played with so many great players and enjoyed so much success. We won All-Ireland titles at U14 and at minor level. 

"The members of the underage squads have all kept in touch through the years. It was a really special time.” 

The Éire Óg player is determined to make the most out of her experience with the Underdogs. 

“I am loving it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far with the Underdogs. I will continue to work hard and see where it takes me. 

"The standard is so high. I feel I have improved as a player. I am aiming to learn as much as I can so I can improve my overall game. I have enjoyed meeting new players from all over the country, visiting new club grounds and working with three impressive coaches.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more