Celebrity Bainisteoir: Christmas Challenge
RTÉ One, Sunday 28th December, 6.30pm
Reigning RTÉ Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008 champions Marty Whelan and Maryland will take on Bainisteoir Patrick Kielty and London Senior Football Champions 2008 Tír Chonaill Gaels in a one-off challenge match for Celebrity Bainisteoir: Christmas Challenge, a special one-hour programme, commissioned by RTÉ and produced by Animo productions, which will broadcast on RTÉ One, over the Christmas season.
Earlier this year RTÉ's Celebrity Bainisteoir became a massive hit as the nation tuned in to watch what happened when eight non-sporting celebrities took on the challenge of managing an intermediate club football team from their home county in an official GAA competition.
Viewers were spellbound as Celebrity Bainisteoir brought the worlds of celebrity and GAA club football crashing together. Eight celebrities came face-to-face with the real meaning of club, community and parish. And it proved to be a winning combination as the drama on and off the pitch unfolded. From Nell McCafferty's epic dressing-room speech to Mary O'Rourke's shock departure to the surreal sight of celebrity-laden helicopters landing at Gerald Kean's Mayfield, Celebrity Bainisteoir didn't disappoint on its promise of passion, tension and spectacle.
Having battled through a long campaign, popular broadcaster Marty Whelan and the mighty men of Maryland took glory in a thrilling final against Gerald Kean's Mayfield held at Parnell Park in May this year.
As the reigning Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008 champions, Maryland went on to become Intermediate County Champions 2008 and they will now take on London Senior Football Champions 2008 Tír Chonaill Gaels in a one-off homecoming decider for the title of Celebrity Bainisteoir Christmas Champions.
The match will take place on 13th December at Maryland's ground in Drumraney, Co Westmeath and the match and all the behind-the-scenes action will be broadcast in Celebrity Bainisteoir: Christmas Challenge over the Christmas season on RTÉ One.
Commenting on the encounter, the reigning Celebrity Bainisteoir champion Marty Whelan said, "Well, six months on I'm delighted to get the opportunity to say how happy I was we won Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008! At the time I didn't get that chance as I had to fly straight from the final to the Eurovision and ended up the next day walking the streets of Belgrade with Dustin! 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."
Asked about the match, Marty said, "Obviously there's a lot on the line with this match but we're looking forward to the challenge. As Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008 champions - as well as Intermediate County champions - Maryland have a lot to play for and the pride of the team is very important. They are winners and will be perceived as such, so we want to keep that record. So we'll be going into this with a good heart. We'll never be cocky but we have a lot of self-belief. Let battle commence!"
While his challenger, comedian and TV presenter, Patrick Kielty, added, "I was asked to do this by a friend of mine who rang me up and said: 'you used to play a bit of GAA, you're living in London, fancy getting involved in this. I was assured I'd be a GAA god after this so I said no problem! 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."
Asked about the challenge ahead, Kielty said, "We're going to get stuck in and get at them. The one thing we don't want to do is go back over there and be viewed as just another London team, making up the numbers. It's great that a team from London is getting a shot at it, and the lads
seem keen. We'll see what happens."
As with the main tournament both Bainisteoirí will have an experienced mentor on hand to help them train and manage the team, but Bainisteoirí will be responsible for team training and tactics and for picking the teams. Dessie Dolan returns to do the honours for Marty Whelan and Paul Hehir will help out Patrick Kielty.
With training under way in both camps, the teams and their Bainisteoirí are determined to walk away with the prize. Maryland have had huge success this year and will be keen to defend their title, while the Exiles have a point to prove to show that they are as good as any team based in Ireland.
Producer Jean Devlin, of Animo Television, said, "Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008 was about showcasing the passion, commitment and skill at the heart of grassroots GAA, and we had a bit fun with it by throwing celebrities into the mix. It's a uniquely Irish family entertainment programme and we were delighted that viewers responded to it so positively. Celebrity Bainisteoir: Chrostmas Challenge is a Christmas special which will provide unique festive entertainment for the whole family. We're delighted that Marty Whelan's Maryland from Westmeath taken on the challenge of defending their title from Patrick Kielty and his Tir Chonaill Gaels from London."