She is the football fan who scored a dream job with BBC NI. Nicola McCarthy has become a familiar face on our TV screens, fronting coverage of the Danske Bank Premiership's highlights show every weekend.
It has been quite a journey for the 37-year-old, who had a five-year stint as first team reporter with Manchester City's in-house channel CityTV.
Now she presents the NIFL Premiership Highlights Show, as well as covering a range of local sports for BBC Sport NI.
Often the only woman in the media pack at Premier League games, it wasn't easy as a female sports broadcaster trying to break into a male dominated field, but Nicola chased her dream.
Now living in Holywood, Co Down, with her TV editor husband Brendan (37), daughters Sophie (6) and Ellie (3), and puppy Xabi, Nicola has been with BBC NI full-time since November 2019.
Sport was always a passion for the former Northern Ireland international but football was number one.
Growing up in Newtownards with parents Sylvia and Thomas Rice, and brothers Stephen and Ryan, Nicola started playing football at St Finian's Primary School before attending Our Lady and St Patrick's College, Knock.
After playing football with the boys' team in primary school, as well as every other sport going, she joined Belfast United - now Glentoran Women.
Three years later, north Down club Northland Raiders were formed by husband and wife team Stephen and Kim Funston and 16-year-old Nicola joined the squad.
"Every time I see Stephen and Kim, I thank them for what they did because it was an incredible amount of their time to give up," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"This was about late '90s and they really provided a platform for us."
In 2001, Nicola began at Queen's University to study history and English and played for the women's football team.
Just two years later she took part in a year-long scholarship in Louisiana as part of Queen's joint business education initiative and it was during her time in America that she got her initial taste for broadcasting.
"After finishing Queen's University in 2005 I travelled for a year to Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Peru," she explained.
"I was then deciding what to do and it was when I was in America, I started working with the college radio and I used to present my own show.
"That's when I really first thought that it was something I wanted to do because I love people and stories."
After gaining a Masters in journalism at Ulster University, Nicola was successful in getting a one-year scholarship at UTV before freelancing with GMTV and Citybeat. She then joined Cool FM in 2010.
While on shift at the station in 2012, Nicola, who was then playing for Cliftonville, saw a job advertisement for Manchester City's CityTV and took a chance.
After her interview at the club - less than four years after it was bought over by the Abu Dhabi United Group - Nicola was offered the job.
When she joined the would-be champions in 2012, the club had fallen eight points behind arch-rivals Manchester United and City had almost accepted that they would have to wait at least another year for their first league title since 1968.
The media team were expecting to get their new recruits trained and up to speed during the quieter closing stages of the season but as Sir Alex Ferguson's side let their advantage slip, things started to become busier than ever.
"Obviously things started to change and that kind of downtime turned out to be the busiest few weeks in the club's history because we got to be a part of the club winning their first Premier League trophy," explained Nicola, who was brought up in a family of United fans.
"I was at the QPR game and saw the Aguero 93:20 moment play out when he scored the late winner (in a 3-2 victory to claim the title). I witnessed that history and I will never forget it.
"It still gives me goosebumps. I worked alongside lifelong Blues who had been through everything so what a time to start. It was a baptism of fire to say the very least."
For the next five years as City's first team reporter, Nicola travelled with the squad to every Premier League and Champions League fixture, as well as memorable pre and post season tours.
She became close friends with players such as Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Fabian Delph and James Milner, and is still in regular contact with them and the club.
"It was a lovely, lovely squad and I got on so well with all of them," Nicola continued.
"Players need to trust you in order to have that closeness. It takes time to build those relationships but once you do they'll do anything for you."
During her pregnancy with Sophie in 2014, Manchester City had just clinched their second Premier League crown and the club travelled to Abu Dhabi for a post season tour.
Nicola fondly remembers Joe Hart walking down the plane and offering her his first-class seat.
"I asked if it was okay with the manager, Manuel Pellegrini, and he said that of course it was so there I was lying down, seven months pregnant, beside Pellegrini and all the players," she said. "It was Alex Kolarov beside me.
"That's the kind of character of Joe, and from that moment we went on to have a really good relationship and still to this day."
Other fond memories during her time with the club include interviewing stars such as Tom Cruise and Noel Gallagher, the Champions League semi-final at Real Madrid in 2016 and Sophie taking her first steps during a pre season tour in Australia.
"Sophie as a one-year-old has been on tour with Man City which will be something good to tell her when she's older," added Nicola. "I've even got pictures of her with Yaya Toure."
Despite the pull of Pep Guardiola becoming Man City manager in 2016, Nicola, who was now pregnant with Ellie, felt it was time for a fresh challenge and joined BBC Salford the following year as a freelancer but still worked with the club.
It was important for both Nicola and Brendan to get their eldest daughter, Sophie, settled and they made the decision to move back to Northern Ireland.
After working as a freelancer with BBC Sport NI from January 2019, Nicola joined the broadcasting company on a full-time basis that November.
"It has been a fantastic opportunity," she said. "We had our first ever live stream of the NIFL Women's Premiership between Glentoran and Crusaders this month which was amazing and another landmark.
"It was something I was really delighted to be involved in having played the game here pretty much my whole life."
Reflecting on the challenges female broadcasters have had in breaking into sports reporting, Nicola says she feels fortunate to have been given the opportunities that have come her way.
She also encouraged any young person, especially females, who want to get into the profession to just go for it.
"I remember when I was at Man City and walking into press rooms in Premier League grounds," said Nicola. "Nine times out of 10 I was the only woman and that was the reality.
"That definitely changed over time and I think in recent years we have seen a fantastic shift in that and one that I know will continue.
"Follow your passions and follow your dreams because you can do it. The opportunities are there."