Aidan O’Mahony wins ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Public vote crowns former Kerry footballer ahead of rivals who scored higher with judges

For the last 12 weeks, familiar faces from the football pitch, the commentators' box, the eye of the storm, Carrigstown, the Irish comedy circuit, and even further afield, from TV3, have danced their hearts out on RTÉ's Dancing with the Stars every Sunday.

Last night, garda and former Kerry GAA footballer Aidan O’Mahony and his dance partner Valeria Milova had the combination of the judges’ favour and more importantly the public vote to win the final and take home the glitter ball trophy that looks like a glorified Ferrero Rocher.

The final saw O'Mahony up against former Fair City actor Aoibhín Garrihy and Red Rock and Love/Hate actor Denise McCormack, as they performed three routines to take the Ferrero Rocher home: the judges' favourite, the dancers' favourite and the show dance, where anything can happen.

O’Mahony came into the competition as the underdog and slowly crept his way up the scoreboard and the judges’ expectations.

His first two dances this evening, the American Smooth to My Baby Just Cares for Me by Michael Bublé and the salsa to Pitbull's Fireball, which had all the fire of the Irish fans at the Euros and all the elegance of the Haka performed by rugby fans at 3am, earned him 25 points each.

However, his his last crusade to Bonnie Tyler's I Need a Hero landed him his first perfect score of 30 in the competition, proving that in the space of 12 weeks, anyone can learn how to dance. And, sure, if you have the backing of the GAA community, anything is possible.

Top contenders

Garrihy and McCormack had been top contenders to win since their first performances, so it’s a huge shock that neither won.

Garrihy and her partner Vitali Kozmin pushed themselves each week to be the best that they could be.

Their first two routines on Sunday, their rock 'n'roll jive to Dead Ringer for Love by Meat Loaf and Cher, and their delicate rumba to Falling Slowly from Once, were just a shave under perfect at 29 points.

Their dynamic excels in moments of drama and that is what their show-stopping show dance to Sia's Chandelier delivered. While this perfect scoring routine almost moved judge Julian Benson to tears, it wasn't enough to win.

McCormack has been the silent champion the entire series. She scored perfect marks for her three routines on Sunday night with her partner Ryan McShane. It was high energy for their tango and their salsa, but they slowed it down by 50 notches for a barefooted ballroom dance to Eva Cassidy's Imagine. Simple but effective, judge Loraine Barry described it as "first class". Alas . . .

This is the first Irish series of Dancing with the Stars and an average of 590,000 people tuned in each week up to the final. For the first six weeks, the eliminations were based on the public vote, which booted off Big Brother UK runner-up Hughie Maughan, whose love of fake tan turned him a fantastic shade of orange in week three; model Thalia Heffernan; weight loss expert and Operation Transformation star Dr Eva Orsmond; and comedian Des Bishop.

More sway

By week eight, the judges – ballroom dancer Loraine Barry, dancing coach Brian Redmond, choreographer Julian Benson and Strictly Come Dancing creative producer Darren Bennett – had more sway in the eliminations with the introduction of the Dreaded Dance Off. The DDO placed the bottom two dancers from the public vote in . . . a dreaded dance off and our harsh but fair judges had the final say on who left. This weeded the footloose and fancy free out from the deadly and determined.

Fallen DDO heroes included RTÉ news reporter Teresa Mannion, best-known for her "Don't make unnecessary journeys" plea during 2015's Storm Desmond; comedian Katherine Lynch; RTÉ sports broadcaster Des "Dancing Dessie" Cahill; and former Home Town singer Dayl Cronin.

Cahill, the least rhythmically inclined, shall we say, lasted until week 10 and while he was adored by his fellow contestants and judges, his longevity, and O’Mahony’s win, suggest that voters were here for the football rather than the footwork.

The show displayed a huge range of skills, with Cronin, Garrihy and McCormack dazzling the most, but voting patterns prove that it’s not the talent that gets you far.