Profile: Pat Critchley

Pat Critchley hurling
Pat Critchley Portlaoise GAA in command of the ball.

Pat or Zoom as he is affectionately known is an icon in Portlaoise and Laois Hurling. He holds 14 Laois Senior Championship medals and probably unknown to many seven of those are for Senior Football. In fact he scored an equalising point in the 1976 Leinster final to bring the game to a replay in which Portlaoise won in Croke Park. He also played on the Portlaoise team which won the 1982/83 All-Ireland Club Football final, beating Clan na nGael of Roscommon 0-12 to 2-0. 


Laois’s only Hurling All Star he graced the playing fields and captained Laois in the 1984 Centenary Cup final against Cork, his opposite captain on that day was John Fenton.


Pat played with and managed the Laois Senior Hurlers and managed the Laois Minor Hurling team. He also managed the Town at various levels.


He was selected on the Laois Millennium Hurling team alongside his fellow team and club mate John Taylor.


Further national recognition of his hurling skills came about in 2013 when he was selected on the team of the greatest players never to have won an All Ireland.


Pat was also a distinguished basketball player and coach and has brought his school team Colaiste Croist Rí to three All Ireland titles.
Fittingly Pat was also involved in helping the ladies team in the school win an All Ireland Football title in 2013 along with Cork All Star and fellow teacher Geraldine O’Flynn.


Zoom may not be flying up and down the wings now but he is still passionately involved in Portlaoise GAA Club.


Pat was the focus of an episode of the TG4 produced Laochra Gael. Airing on Thursday February 29th 2024. 

What a deserving honour for Pat and for his family. His sporting prowess is well documented – from his playing days in hurling, football and basketball to a legendary career in coaching across these codes in Portlaoise, Laois and beyond.


To this day he remains at the coalface giving up so much of his time to coach, mentor and inspire the next generation. His generosity of time and spirit, empathy, humility, positivity, humour, expertise, and unique personality make Pat one of the most respected and loved people in the county of Laois.


Of course Pat is also a talented author having published an acclaimed autobiography ’Hungry Hill’, a book of yarns and storytelling’Bruno’, and his most recent tome ’A Coaching Way’ which is an excellent and practical resource for all coaches.


The TG4 blurb says: “Pat Critchley was a mainstay of the Laois GAA hurling team of the 1980s.


“He is often referred to as “Laois’s only hurling All Star”, which is some distinction, picked up when he was a mop-haired midfielder when Laois made it to the Leinster final in 1985.


“During his playing days, coaching captured Critchley’s imagination.


“Critchley has given thousands an opportunity to develop and flourish on pitches and courts throughout Ireland – in football, hurling, basketball and ladies football at club and county level.


“Sport was an obvious outlet. But music was and remains a huge part of his life.


“For a while, he was part of The Mere Mortals, the Laois rock band managed by his friend and former Laois team-mate Séamus Cheddar Plunkett.


“A major part of his life is notably the tragic death of Paul Mulhare in 1985, the year of his All-Star, following a league match between Dublin and Laois. Mulhare suffered an accidental blow to the head from Critchley’s hurl, and later died in hospital.


“Critchley treats it sensitively and with tremendous humanity and care.


“There is a sense that writing offers him some helpful expression and an attempt to make sense of what were almost surreal experiences.”


The episode is directed by Cormac More and will feature Pat Critchley; Mick Critchley; Vincent Hogan; Dónal O’Grady; Pat Fleury; Séamus Plunkett; Patty Critchley; Elaine Fitzpatrick; Catherine Ashe; Angela Casey; Ollie Plunkett; Des Rigney; Paul Brophy; Paul Marron; John Bohan and Billy Bohan.

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