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Tiocfaidh ar L.A. From LA gangs to the GAA pitch - how a US teacher landed spot on TG4 show Underdogs

When I graduated as a teacher I worked in South Central LA which is a huge area for the gangs, everyone has heard of the Crips and the Bloods, but they are not the worst believe me there are far more dangerous gangs out there.


Danielle Slemmer

Danielle Slemmer

Danielle Slemmer

The breakout star of the current series of TG4 hit show Underdogs has revealed that she had never kicked a GAA ball less than 18 months ago and thought Gaelic football was a variant of rugby.

Now glamorous goalie Danielle Slemmer (34), who hails from the US, is in prime position to make the Underdogs team that will face All Ireland ladies winners Meath at the end of the series.

Amazingly, she didn’t even apply to go on the show - her boyfriend, Conor Carmody from Listowel, sent in the application to Adare Productions without her knowing.

She told the Sunday World: “I knew nothing about it until I got an email from the producers and I was straight on to Conor and was like ‘What the f**k have you done’?

“He told me he knew I’d be a good fit and that I would find out exactly how far I could go in GAA by doing it.

“They then sent me out a more detailed application form and one of the questions on it asked you to describe your partner, so I put down, ‘He’s an a*****e, thinking they won’t take me now but they did and I guess here I am talking to the media!

“Because of lockdown the trials took place nine months before filming started, and I know I have my work cut out to make the starting team as the two other goalies, Cathy Dunne and Sinead Dolan are good, really good.

“I’m actually only a goalie because I am too old to be running around the pitch.”

Originally from Los Angeles Danielle now lives in Dublin where she completed a Masters in Business Administration in Trinity, but not before she taught in an LA area dominated by gangs.


Danielle Slemmer

Danielle Slemmer

Danielle Slemmer

She recalled: “When I graduated as a teacher I worked in South Central LA which is a huge area for the gangs, everyone has heard of the Crips and the Bloods, but they are not the worst believe me there are far more dangerous gangs out there.

“It’s an amazing city really as less than half an hour from there you had the glitz of Hollywood, but here’s something will surprise you, to get around LA you absolutely need a car the public transport system is pretty poor.

“I then taught in of all places, Vietnam, before coming to Trinity where I met Conor, I had been to Ireland on vacation a few times and I had seen Gaelic football but I just thought it was some kind of rugby.

“Last year we were away in Copenhagen for a weekend when Covid hit and were on the last flight out before Denmark closed its borders.

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“On the flight back we decided that as we were sharing an apartment with a nurse who worked on a Covid ward we’d just nip in pack a few things and head to Listowel where Conor is from.

“Basically we spent the next 18 months living out of the suitcase we had packed for a weekend in Denmark."

She continued: “I was always into sport. I played Water Polo to a decent level, and as I had played soccer when I was younger I joined a team down there and the very first night they asked me what position I played and I said goalie.

“One of the girls on the team came up afterwards and told me that the goalie on the side she played for, Clounmacon, was injured and asked would I play for them, I hadn’t a clue about the rules or anything but agreed to give it a go.

“When I went training I had a lightbulb moment that made me think, ‘Ah so THIS is what those guys I saw were playing’, and now I am hooked on it and I’d give anything to play for Kerry'".

Underdogs has now finished shooting and last Thursday viewers saw the girls go through what Danielle describes as the hardest camp yet.

"On the Friday we were dropped off with the Irish Army Rangers and put in the middle of a forest with no food and a rationed supply of water.

"We had to survive in those conditions until the Sunday and that’s where the LA woman in me came out, I told the girls on the same unit as me if it moves kill it and eat it and that’s what we did.

"It was a test designed to see how we coped under stress and I’m lucky I have a natural instinct to survive.

"If I can survive nearly two years living out of a small suitcase in Kerry I can pretty much deal with anything."

High dropping balls will be no problem to her so.

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