I've been told many a times for someone who hopes to get into presenting and media, contacts and experience are the essentials, it makes no difference what degrees you have I'll agree it's a pity but in this business it's not what you know it's who you know, and I was blessed to have Máire Treasa as a contact of mine since I was about 16.
After arriving in Limerick and having the hair straightened like a pin I decided it was time to dress myself.
I got all my clothes laid out before I realised I forgot my jeans. Yes!! My jeans. I had no trousers to wear! That's when the realisation got me!! I either had my pyjama pants OR my soaking wet tracksuit pants to go with my fancy cream coat. Which do I choose??
Well what would you wear?? The soaking wet tackies or the pyjamas?? Which as a matter of fact looked better than the tackies!! So I rang the friends pussin and bawling about my lack of pants and I was only blessed one of them were smart enough to bring a pair of black leggings, so they wouldn't get cold THANK THE LORD!!! crisis avoided.
By the time I finally made it down to the lobby it was about 3pm, and knowing I had to meet Máire Treasa at 4pm the panic struck, not to mention the rain still bucketing down outside, finally after sitting down I realised I forgot my phone so back up to the room I went, the lift taking a good 20 minutes no exaggeration, I got into the over crowded lift of about 10 Americans who of course made me talk and talk and talk just because my accent was 'Awesome'.. bloody Americans!! that went on until we finally reached the eight floor and I made a sprint down the corridor kinda like a James Bond moment If you can imagine, but I was in heels so imagine a James Bond moment as a girl in heels sprinting down a hotel corridor, I'll admit I felt fairly cool, that was until my hotel neighbours wandered out looking confused and worried.
Finally after being reunited with the phone I repeated my mission of sprinting down the corridor looking like a pansy and pressing that escalator button like a ninja panting out of breath, well like the corridor is very long and I ran really fast and so when the lift opened what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Munster rugby player.... BJ Botha. Now there's a story to tell the kids, .. Yeah shared a lift with Botha... no biggie!!
So when I finally reached the ground floor YET AGAIN, I decided to book a taxi to drive me to Thomond because at this stage it was already 3.30 and still lashing so that was it.. Pressure on!! When my taxi finally arrived we couldn't move because the fecking Munster Bus was parked outside the hotel!! Darn ye Munster men thinking ye can block up the road Darn ye!! but finally we were off and I had finally arrived at the grounds of ...THOMOND PARK!!!
At this stage it was at least 4.10 so I was at least ten minutes late, and I can honestly hand on my heart tell you right now you haven't experienced pain until you've sprinted around Thomond Park, in the rain looking for the Doug Out in 4 inch heels!! but on the plus I was average height for a normal Irish teenager!!.
So running around asking people where I was, at one stage I even asked was I still in the grounds of Thomond!! but I eventually made it to the Dugout bar.. busting in the door to about 50 people running around and no sign of the one person I was supposed to meet there. On the phone to Máire Treasa at 4.30 and she told me she wasn't even at Thomond yet!!! THE RELIEF, but standing around on your own twiddling your thumbs isn't as fun as you'd expect, trust me!
When I finally met her, we proceed to have lunch IN THOMOND PARK!!!! sitting down at my table which consisted of Jerry Flannery!!! YES!!!! FLANNERY!!!!!!!!!! That was one of them moments where I really did need to pinch myself! Dreaming, that was until I realised they all only spoke Irish to each other!! Why that was such a shock to me I'll never understand I was at TG4 for God sake!!!! But they all spoke Irish!! ALL the time!! and me with my very limited knowledge of the language didn't go down great!! but none the less here I was in Thomond Park, having lunch with one of Munster's biggest legends and one of my Idols. (Even though she wasn't as nice as expected and it took her a good twenty minutes to realise my name was Lynda and not Laura) but other than that life was great!!!!!
When we were finished lunch we headed to the TG4 area!!
Walking around Thomond beside Máire Treasa really did make me feel like a superstar!! Well in my own little imagination it did!! I LOVED it, I even had my own little lanyard that said 'Media' on it!! I felt AMAZING!!!!!
We then got into one of the trucks!!! Yes I repeat TRUCKS!!!!!!!!!! Three trucks for that matter (Any live coverage from TG4 is done from these three trucks) and I can tell you now!! I'm not a big fan of cars or trucks!! BUT!! These trucks!! WOW!!!!!.
They were massive big things!!! They were fully equipped with televisions and people and it was amazing!! (Well the people didn't come with the trucks but it was packed) Not what I had expected one bit. I then sat down with two analysis's whilst Máire Treasa did a bit of planning for the show. It was amazing just soaking up the atmosphere!! just being in this truck with all the professionals doing my dream job was outstanding!! I had shivers!!!
The next minute the shows director hopped onto the truck as well as the rest of the cast and crew! I had Jerry Flannery standing beside me and Máire Treasa sitting in front of me in a TG4 truck!! WOW!!
Everyone was handed this booklet of about 10 pages and printed on them was the layout of how the show was going to be run (ALL in Irish I may add so quite difficult for myself to understand but I loved it) It was after that Máire Treasa left me, so I was sitting in the truck when I befriended the analyst's beside me Susan and Paddy!!
They took me through what they do step by step and once again I just loved it. I was going grand then until the producer, who was terrifying told me to go find Máire Treasa she was 'Over the Guinness sign' yeah thanks for that.. but I headed off on the hunt. That was one of them moments when you stop look at your surroundings and just laugh.
Try picture this in your head now, an 18 year old walking around Thomond Park, in heels on her own in a big fancy coat with a 'Media' sign on her when the Munster boys are warming up on pitch. I walked past the tunnel around the sides of the pitch onto the pitch everywhere! and I was clueless!!!. I was wandering around Thomond bloody Park UNSUPERVISED!! With a tab that allowed me access to all areas... Hellooo dressing rooms!!! I'm only messing!!!!!.... or am I??... no I'm totally messing!! I wouldn't do such a thing!!!
I can't say it was what I had imagined but my God was it an amazing experience!! Getting to see how the show is put together was outstanding and I loved every minute!!
They practised over and over until It was time to go live! I could almost feel the pressure but the guys were such professional and you could see they enjoyed what they were doing so much. They went live before the game started, at half time and when it was over and the preparation that was involved was immense everything had to be precise and timed to a 'T', there isn't a second chance with live TV but even Máire Treasa told me that that's the fun of it, and she prefers going live there's more of a buzz but as I found out things go wrong. At the end part of the show all the earphones bailed so no one could hear each other!!
Jesus that was intense 3 minutes but was handled amazingly and that's always something that can go wrong, and as a presenter it's your job to cover and think on your feet to fix it, exactly what Máire Treasa did. A true professional!!!
When the match was on I got to sit up in the area to watch the match with the whole TG4 team!! It was fantastic!! I actually got to sit down at the match instead of breaking a rib of the side of the railings getting soaked with the rain which was amazing!! The view was fantastic!!!
So when the show was over, we headed back to the truck where everything had settled down, giving back my lanyard was tough I'll admit, but what a great day!!. We got back onto the truck and we actually had room to walk around, it was strange.
I then got into Máire Treasa's car as she dropped me back to my hotel!!. If that isn't dreaming then I really don't know what is.
Chatting to Máire Treasa on the way home was what really opened my eyes, It's so clear this didn't come easy to her and she worked so hard but now she's living her dream and it's all because she persevered through everything. She told me how she went to Mary I in Limerick and how she was a primary teacher!!! A teacher would you believe and now she's on the tele!! That's some cool teacher in my eyes!!.
I always imagined a career in media uber glamorous! but I noticed Máire Treasa putting on her own lipstick!! so it showed me to perhaps lower my expectations in some way, which is so important.
When I finally got back to the hotel round 10pm I was fit for the bed but that cherry on top of the day??
Was that it was the Munster Rugby's Christmas party that night so I got to see loads of the men dolled up...
YEP!!!! Really did live the dream that day!!!! ;-)