Celeb Winners to face London Champions
Celebrity Bainisteoir champions Maryland will host London senior football kingpins Tir Chonaill Gaels in a one-off challenge match on December 13.
The game will see popular broadcaster Marty Whelan return to manage the Westmeath club against the London champions, who will be managed by comedian and former Down All-Ireland minor winner Patrick Kielty. Highlights and all the behind-the-scenes action will be broadcast over the Christmas period on RTE1 as part of a programme called ’Celebrity Bainisteoir: Home for Christmas’.
Maryland, which is a small rural club situated outside Athlone, were crowned the inaugural Celebrity Bainisteoir winners following a comfortable victory over Cork side Mayfield in a final which attracted 6,000 spectators to Parnell Park last May, and was subsequently screened on RTE. Since then, they have gone on to win their first Westmeath IFC in 28 years.
Marty Whelan, who has strong family connections with the Lake County, said he was thrilled to be back in charge of the team.
"Well, six months on, I’m delighted to get the opportunity to say how happy I was we won Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008," he said.
"At the time, I didn’t get that chance as I had to fly straight from the final to the Eurovision. It was just a fantastic experience and for the Maryland team and everyone at the club it was a huge victory and a well-deserved one.
"Obviously, there’s a lot on the line with this match but we’re looking forward to the challenge. Maryland have a lot to play for and the pride of the team is important."
His Tir Chonaill Gaels counterpart Patrick Kielty said: "I played a bit when I was younger. I was actually a sub on the Down minor team that won the All-Ireland in 1987.
"I haven’t done anything in years though, so I’m really looking forward to it. We’re going to get in and get at them."
The Greenford-based club will be using the game as preparation for their All-Ireland club quarter-final against Galway and Connacht champions Corofin on January 18.