Coach Darragh ready for another life-changing challenge

Darragh Fitzgerald with fellow Operation Transformation leaders Michelle Rogan, Edel O’Malley, Anne Cushen, and Noel O’Connell. Photo: RTÉ.

LIMERICK rugby coach Darragh Fitzgerald has undergone more than one transformation in his life when it comes to health – and now he has been revealed as one of the leaders for a very public transformation on one of the nation’s favourite TV shows.

Darragh, from Corbally,  was one of the final leaders to join the Operation Transformation team as the new RTÉ series aired for the first time this year.

The 37-year-old dad of two – engaged to Yvonne and father to Rian (8) and Roisin (2) – got the rugby bug young and has played all his life. He now coaches underage and adult teams with St Mary’s RFC.

As a teenager, Darragh overcame a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma called Burkitts. He was 16 when he had a tumour removed from his bowel and underwent intense chemotherapy.

Chatting to presenter Kathryn Thomas, the Limerick man shared how he had felt some intrusive guilty thoughts that his father’s  cancer may have had been picked up sooner had he not been so focused on Darragh’s treatment at the time.

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Two years ago, Darragh again found himself in hospital with an abnormal heart rhythm being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Speaking about his ambitions, Darragh says he would like to get a better work-life balance to make more time for himself, his family, and the important things in life, as he works long days and leads  a mostly sedentary life despite his coaching.

“It’s a superb opportunity really to have the five experts at hand over the eight weeks,” he said of his opportunity with the show.

“To lean on them and to tap into their knowledge and experience, to me that’s invaluable.

“I am also looking forward to seeing how I, along with the other four leaders, progress over the eight weeks. In the end, it will all hopefully be worthwhile.

“The five of us (leaders on the show) keep referring to this as a journey, and essentially, that’s what it is – the eight weeks is only the start.”

Darragh no longer plays rugby but still coaches with St Mary’s and has been active all his life, but has concerns about his weight and his lifestyle.

After the show aired on Wednesday night, there was huge support for Darragh and his challenge with messages coming in from Limerick and much further afield wishing him well.