Cork’s Naomh Abán are one of four clubs featured in a new seven-part TG4 documentary which begins tonight.
Croí and Chlub tells the story of the Baile Bhúirne side along with Cumann Mícheál Breathnach in Galway, Round Towers in Dublin and Donegal’s Naomh Mhuire as they returned to action amid Covid in 2021..
In the first episode, viewers are introduced to Ciara Ní Loingsigh, who is a young member of the club’s committee, along with Seán Ó Ríordáin, part of the U21 panel that was preparing for the delayed 2020 championship.
Ciara’s lineage dates back more than a half-century.
“My grandfather and his brother played in the 1960s and then my father and three uncles played for years, too,” she tells the camera.
“Now, myself and my brother Dara play, as does my younger sister Aoibhinn, she plays U10.
“When we hosted Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta in 2016, I was looking at everything that was going on. And although I did help, I wasn’t on the committee, I was a player.
“And I was helping over the weekend, and it inspired me to join the committee. And my father is also very involved with the club and he encourage myself and my sister Niamh to join the committee.
“So now I’m on the finance committee and the communications sub-committee. I’m also assistant secretary of the club.
“It’s great to have the club up and running again because it’s nice that everybody can play football again and go out playing with their friends and that. So it’s a great step forward that people can go back playing again.
“Some of the matches didn’t finish last year. A lot of the teams did finish their games, but the 2020 U21 championship is still to be played.”
One of those involved with that U21 team is Seán Ó Ríordáin, who was also engaged in teaching practice in the local primary school, Coláiste Abán Naofa, at the time of filming.
Contributors from the clubs involved speak to the camera in Irish, with subtitles in English. For Ó Ríordáin’s first interview, the focus was on getting ready for the completion of the outstanding 2020 campaign at U21 level while he had his eye on making a splash with the club’s premier intermediate side, too.
“The small pitches have been set out for seven-a-side matches so people can come back slowly,” he says.
“They’re not straight back into the big matches but seven-a-side means they’re getting a taste of competition again. Coming back from a year of Covid, this is a good way to get back into competition, with matches between our own teams.
“The team we have for U21 this year, we won the Cork minor championship with them too. And the following year, we won the Cork minor championship again, so that was two years in a row.
“So in this age-group, there’s a strong group of footballers, they’re all in my age-group. We won two Cork minor championships and this year, we want to win the U21 championship.
“I really want to win something with the U21s. I want to be in the mix for a spot on the intermediate team.
“I was in the running there a few years ago, I was starting in a few league matches, but problems with my back last year  stopped all that.
“But I want to get back to that level again and try to get a spot on that team.”
Elsewhere, Cárthach Bán Breathnach – son of broadcaster Seán Bán – outlines the commitment involved in commuting from Dublin to coach the hurling team of Micheál Breathnachs in Galway, traditionally a football club, while Donegal ladies’ football star Róisín Nic Ruairí details the challenges in combining inter-county activity with that of her home club Naomh Mhuire.
The fourth club featured are Round Towers from Dublin, with the focus on their camogie side, aiming to make it back to the county championship final for the second straight season.
· Crói an Chlub begins on TG4 at 8pm tonight and will run for the next six Thursdays