When show host Amanda Byram put it to GAA correspondent Marty Morrissey after his first dance that he was “truly off the sidelines and truly in the action” he replied bashfully “well for about three weeks”. That is because there is no eliminations for the first fortnight.
But the chants of “Marty, Marty” when he finished his maiden routine with dance partner Ksenia Zsikhotska appeared to show that, as with Kerry footballer Aidan O’Mahony winning without being the best dancer last year, the luck of the GAA has an input and Marty could escape elimination for most of the next 12 weeks.
He only scored 12 points, seven less than the winning routine, but it is likely his judges’ scores may always be skewed by the public vote.
Last night’s first show only saw the men competing — the women will dance against each other next Sunday. He may have graced the most elite sporting venues in the world, but rarely has Olympic medal winning walker Rob Heffernan looked so nervous, not least since he had endured considerable co-ordination issues in practice for the jive.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve got it,” he admitted when he finished dancing. The judges were reasonably complimentary, with the normally critical Brian Redmond even admitting he “made a good fist of it”. He got a total of 17 points.
For Bernard O’Shea and his “dad dancing” the outcome was not so good, not least because he was given a 2 for his tango by Brian Redmond, one of the lowest scores ever seen on the show.
Even the more encouraging judge, stand-in Darren Bennett said there seemed to be “more walking than stalking” about the performance. In all he scored a low 10 points.
Munster and rugby hero Tomás O’Leary scored 17 points for his foxtrot and he was praised by judge Lorraine Barry for his “lovely form” while Brian said it “wasn’t a bad attempt”.
Liverpudlian Jake Carter, 19 year-old brother of Nathan, may not be too well known on these shores, but the singer’s performance showed he is a force to be reckoned with if the judges’ scores carry enough weight.
He won the night’s highest points, 19, with Brian Redmond telling him “You should have enough there to suggest you should be more confident” and Darren Bennett telling Carter’s dance partner Karen Byrne she had got her “hands on a Ferrari”.
Makes a change from the safe but fairly cumbersome 4x4, Des Cahill, who she had to steer around the dancefloor in last year’s competition.
Next weekend the female celebrities take to the dancefloor including comedian Deirdre O’Kane, entrepreneur Norah Casey, broadcaster Maia Dunphy and Cork camogie star Anna Geary.