Above: Catherine O'Connor and Dave Scully at the launch night of Strictly Clon Dancing
Clonakilty GAA and Rugby clubs are creating history this Autumn by organising a joint fundraiser which promises to be the social event of the year. ‘Strictly Clon Dancing’ take place this November with two semi finals in Dunmore House Hotel on November 6 and 13, and the Grand Final planned for November 21 in Inchydoney Lodge and Spa Hotel.
Ger McCarthy of Clonakilty GAA came up with the idea of ‘Strictly Clon Dancing’. Ger “crossed the floor”, so to speak, to ask Kieran O’Regan, Chairman of Clonakilty Rugby Club, if he would “like to dance” and discovered that Kieran was a willing partner. Following this approach, a committee comprised of members of both clubs was set up, which met regularly over the summer months.
The first task was to find willing dancers to take part. To the committee’s great surprise, over 60 people registered and for the past number of months practice has taken place every Sunday morning, under the guidance of well-known and experienced dance teacher, Margaret Fowler of Viva Dance Studios Cork.
Sean Kelly, MEP and former President of the GAA, officially launched the event on Friday September 25 at the GAA Complex. In doing so Sean brought two sports together for a second time; Sean was instrumental in opening Croke Park to both rugby and soccer during renovations of Lansdowne Road.
Sean, who has been a frequent visitor to Clonakilty over the years, said “we have all heard of Strictly Come Dancing but of course, being the inspirational and creative group of people that you are, you have put your own twist on it. Bringing the two clubs together says much more than the actual event. Collaboration, co-operation and community are what this event is really all about and we need to see more of this in Ireland. Thankfully it is beginning to happen, but not perhaps as much as it should be. In that respect you are the first clubs in Cork, possibly of the very few in Ireland, who have come together for the benefit of both clubs and of course the entire community.”
Sean congratulated both clubs for giving young people an opportunity to play sport, “we are becoming increasingly worried about growing levels of obesity amongst young people. Unless we get them into the good habits of playing rugby, GAA, soccer, or even dancing, at a young age, the chances are that they will not exercise when they grow up.”
The hard work began after the launch night, as each couple is now practicing to perfect their dance moves for their Semi Finals in November. On each of the nights only six couples will make it through to the Grand Final on November 21. The dancers will be judged on their performance and entertainment value, similar to the TV show, with judges and the audience awarding scores out of 10.
Organisers have been lucky to secure a number of guest judges, including Pascal Sheehy and George Hook, as well as local personalities. Unfortunately tickets are now sold out but may the best dancers win!