By Sarah Slater
A pair of rugby boots worn by world rugby player of the year Johnny Sexton has fetched €15,500 at auction.
The father of three donated his boots to raise funds for a seriously ill girl.
The Irish out-half's lucky boots, which he wore playing in Ireland's Grand Slam and when Leinster won the Pro14 and the Champions Cup, went under the auction hammer on Wednesday evening.
He was never been beaten in any games when he wore the boots and he has become the first Irishman in 17 years to be crowned World Rugby Player of the Year last Sunday.
He was previously nominated four years ago and Keith Wood is the only Irish player to win the prize.
Lot 1267, the final item of the two-day long auction was the subject of several frantic bids for a number of minutes. It is understood that the buyer is Irish.
All proceeds from the sale of the well-worn rugby boots, by Shepherds Auctioneers in Durrow, Co Laois, will go towards the medical treatment of eight-year-old Anna Browne, from Mallow, Co Cork.
Her family are trying to raise money to pay for ongoing treatment both in here and in the US to treat her cerebral palsy. Anna’s illness is restricting her mobility and she requires the use of a wheelchair.
Sexton’s generous offer came after his godfather, Listowel publican and author Billy Keane, met the Browne family and was deeply touched by Anna's story. Contact was then successfully made with Sexton who unselfishly donated the boots.
The auction catalogue details the boots as: “Provenance: Jonathan Sexton. The leather skin of the instep and toe is broken from stamping studs and the pounding of giants, accidental and otherwise.
“These are his lucky boots: the boots won the Grand Slam, the Pro14 and the Champions Cup. He has never been beaten in these boots.”