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Watch: Pep Guardiola pops in to play a round and raise a pound for Rory McIlroy

By Allan Preston

Sporting superstars Rory McIlroy and Pep Guardiola delighted fans last night at the Waterfront Hall during an evening compered by Coleraine actor Jimmy Nesbitt.

The star-studded event attended by nearly 3,000 people helped to raise money for the Rory Foundation and set the mood for this week's Irish Open in Portstewart.

Famous faces in the crowd included members of Two Door Cinema Club and former rugby player Stephen Ferris, as well as golfer Tom McKibbin.

Former Westlife singer Shane Filan delivered a surprise set to round the night off.

"I know I always say it, but I love coming home - there's no place like it," said McIlroy.

Join us live at 19:30 BST from Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall for #EveningwithRory & Pep Guardiola.

Posted by Rory McIlroy on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"There's just so many familiar faces here this evening, which is really amazing to see. I'm excited to have Pep Guardiola here in Northern Ireland.

"It's a great thing he's joining us this evening and I'm really looking forward to him playing in tomorrow's Pro Am tomorrow at Portstewart."

"I'd like to thank Pep, Jimmy Nesbitt and Shane Filan for supporting my Foundation and taking the time to come here this evening - I really can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

"I hope we can raise as much money as possible tonight and throughout the week for the fantastic causes supported by my Foundation."

Manchester City boss Guardiola told the crowd about his lauded playing and managerial career in Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Today he will be among the celebrity golfers competing in the Pro-Am tournament, along with Nesbitt and fellow actor Jamie Dornan.

Asked about his chances of holding on to his Irish Open trophy, McIlroy said he couldn't wait to tee off.

"To win last year at The K Club was pretty special," he said.

"Lots of my family and friends were there and to win for my Foundation was the icing on the cake. It was quite emotional, actually.

"I hope I can hit the ground running this year and make the strongest possible defence of my title. Portstewart will be a great challenge this week and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in."

The Holywood golfer also discussed the latest work of the Rory Foundation, including a €1.2m donation to the Cancer Fund for Children for its next project in Connacht. This week from Thursday to Sunday, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will see McIlroy competing with some of the sport's biggest names including fellow Ulstermen Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell along with Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Shane Lowry, Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter.

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