Eight celebrities have swapped their glamorous lifestyles for the raw passion of a GAA training ground.
The contestants of the new reality television show, 'Celebrity Bainisteoir', were revealed today as they took control their local football clubs.
Top model Glenda Gilson, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean, journalist Nell McCafferty, comedian Jon Kenny, television presenter Baz Ashmawy, politician Mary O’Rourke, bookmaker Ivan Yates and former Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain have taken the reigns of an intermediate club football team in their home county.
Officially sanctioned by the GAA, the tournament will feature four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and the final, which is to be played on May 9 at Parnell Park in Dublin.
The show will hit our screens on RTÉ One starting Sunday, March 23.
Glenda, who has one of Ireland’s most photographed faces, has stepped off the red carpet and on to the pitch at Crumlin GAA Club in Dublin.
She said her new role – which she started just over a months ago – was her most daunting ever.
“The first day of the training session I nearly started crying,” she said.
“I wasn’t able for it at all and felt I was like a schoolgirl on a street corner trying to be cool in front of boys.
“It’s been the most daunting experience of my life.
“I’ve never felt so sick in my stomach as I have going out on to every training session with 25 to 30 lads and training them.
“The crew and producers were telling me I had to be harder on them, and I found it quite hard to be tough, but I have to say as the weeks have gone on I’ve been able to give them a bit more lip.”
Gerald travels home to Mayfield in Cork, with Nell training St Mary’s Faughanvale, Derry, and Jon leading the way at Galtee Gaels, Limerick.
Wicklow man Baz will manage a team at Ballymanus, while Mary – Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath – will give the orders at Maryland.
Ivan, a former Fine Gael politician, goes home to Taghmon-Camross GAA Club, Wexford, and Aoibhinn, a regular on The Panel, goes to Kiltimagh GAA Club, Mayo.
Although Glenda admitted she hope’s the coverage will enhance her career prospects as a television presenter, she said she took the challenge because it was very different than anything she’s done before.
“We have a really good team with great players so I hope to god we’ll win,” she added.
“Our first game is Gerald Keane’s team at Mayfield and we’re definitely going to kick their ass.”
Each of the Bainisteoiri will have an experienced mentor on hand to help them train and manage their team.
But the celebs – who will battle it out for title of 'Celebrity Bainisteoir 2008' - will be responsible for team training, tactics, and picking the teams.
Producer Jean Devlin, of Animo Television, said the show was about showcasing and celebrating the passion, skill and commitment of grassroots GAA.
“But we’re having a bit fun with it by throwing celebrities into the mix,” he added.
“At its heart it’s a uniquely Irish family entertainment programme.
“For the clubs it’s a rare chance to showcase club football to a national audience in an entertainment programme, while for the celebrities it’s a chance to learn a brand new skill.”
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