BBC Sport NI reporter Nicola McCarthy joins Manchester City's title celebrations

Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy after the dramatic victory over Aston Villa
Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy after the dramatic victory over Aston Villa

Manchester City won a fourth Premier League title in five years in thrilling fashion on Sunday and a BBC Sport NI reporter was in midst of the team's celebrations.

Nicola McCarthy worked as a presenter on the club's TV station from 2012 before returning home to Northern Ireland six years later.

The former Northern Ireland youth player grew up as a die-hard fan of rivals Manchester United but her time at the Etihad Stadium would see a split in her loyalties.

McCarthy is a familiar face to local football fans as a presenter of the NIFL Premiership Highlights show while she also hosts Sportsound Extra Time on Radio Ulster.

Her first game for CityTV was the iconic 'Aguerooooo!' game in 2012 when a last-gasp win secured a first top-flight title for 44 years.

She was there again a decade later to watch the dramatic 3-2 victory over Aston Villa as Pep Guardiola's side fought back from 2-0 down to score three late goals and pip Liverpool to Premier League glory.

Electric Etihad

"It was just unbelievable - the atmosphere was electric and the way the game played out was incredible," said the 39-year-old from county Down.

"I was invited to the game as part of a staff reunion to mark the Aguero game 10 years go and it felt very similar to that day with the tension and then the celebrations.

Nicola McCarthy joins the title celebrations with City manager Pep Guardiola
Nicola McCarthy joins the title celebrations with City manager Pep Guardiola

"I thought I'd take my chance to go down a do a couple of interviews for Sportsound Extra Time as I know many of the players from my time at the club.

"I was a big United fan and went over to Old Trafford to matches but when I got to know Man City, both the club and players, it was very difficult not to support them also.

"So I suppose I'm one of those of half-and-half scarf fans by following both Manchester teams but I was so delighted with the win on Sunday and it was brilliant to enjoy the celebrations with the team."

McCarthy played as a left winger, just like her United hero Ryan Giggs, and dreamt of becoming a professional player but the women's game then did not not provide the opportunities it does now.

Labour of love

She was determined to work in the sport she loved and after a stint at Cool FM & Downtown Radio she leapt at the chance to work for Manchester City.

Her first player interview was with Fernandinho and she interviewed the Brazilian midfielder and Ilkay Gundogan, who was the hero with a double against Villa, after the game.

McCarthy also had a brief chat with Guardiola and being the reporter she is there was simple but pertinent question put to the City manager.

"I congratulated him and asked what he said to the team at half-time when they were behind. He just replied "Enough!".

"Talking to Fernandinho was really special - I did his first interview when he arrived at the club and now I was doing the same but this time he was lifting the trophy as captain in his final game with City.

"I may not be working at the club anymore but everyone there made me feel welcome on my return and that it just the way it is with Manchester City.

"For a club of it's size it ensures everyone feels part of what it achieves and it has done so much for the community in Manchester.

"The club remains very special to me and it was a privilege to be there on a day I'll never forget."

You can listen to Nicola McCarthy's interviews with Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan on Sportsound Extra Time on Radio Ulster at 1800 BST on Monday.

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