Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

McCafferty team boss

A Londonderry author and journalist who survived a massive heart attack today told why she has taken on the challenge of coaching a team in a sport she has never played.

In February last year Nell McCafferty suffered a heart attack and subsequently underwent a quadruple cardiac by-pass operation, and was advised to get fit.

Now, she has agreed to coach a GAA team in her native Derry, after Faughanvale GAC were chosen to take part in an RTE programme to be shown next year.

And she says she hopes to win the cup.

Celebrity Bainisteoir will see eight clubs from across the island take part in a cup competition that will be screened next autumn.

Faughanvale's celebrity manager is Nell McCafferty who at different times has been a journalist, playwright, civil rights campaigner, and feminist.

She has written for The Irish Press, The Irish Times, The Sunday Tribune, and Hot Press.

Ms McCafferty hopes she will be guiding Faughanvale to cup glory against clubs from Mayo, Meath, Westmeath, Wexford, Waterford, Limerick and Dublin.

The programme will see the celebrity take up the role of manager as she puts the players through their paces in preparation for the tournament which is due to start at the end of February.

Pre-season training begins in the first week of January.

Faughanvale GAC secretary Michael O'Connor said: "The call came out of the blue. The programme makers were looking for a middle of the road intermediate club to take part and we fit the bill. The players are looking forward to it, as well as being a bit of fun we would still hope to do well.

"We don't usually begin training until the New Year so this has added a bit of focus to our pre-season. Everyone is looking forward to it."

Ms McCafferty said: "It is a new experience for me and it is a completely new one to work exclusively with men, and for them it will be a completely new one working with a woman.

"We are in mutual agreement to take part because we want to win. Interestingly as an inetermediate team they have never travelled before so this will be like international travel for them.

"Our first draw is against Limerick. The competition begins with three games, then a quarter-final, the semi-final and the final."

Although untried and tested as a manager Ms McCafferty believes she has other qualities to help propel her team into the spotlight. Previously she won a Jacob's Award for her reports on the 1990 World Cup for RTE Radio 1's The Pat Kenny Show.

"As I have media experience, so I can make them sporting gods. But I can only work with what I have got, the question will be whether they have the desire to win the cup.

"I'm hoping this will be a mutually beneficial relationship. We might win."

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