Dancing with the Stars: Des Cahill's luck finally runs out

He was the people's favourite, and there isn’t a dry eye in Ardmore as Dancing Dessie exits

Last dance saloon: Des Cahill and Karen Byrne. Photographs: RTE

Last dance saloon: Des Cahill and Karen Byrne. Photographs: RTE


Just as Enda Kenny calls for a referendum to be held on voting rights for Irish abroad in presidential elections, our voters at home – with the combination of the judges’ final say – finally get it right in the quarter finals of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars as Dancing Dessie Cahill is sent home. Up against Aoibhín Garrihy in the Dreaded Dance Off (DDO), he simply could not compete.

For the past 10 weeks, Cahill and his partner Karen Byrne have pulled the heartstrings of the judges, the other couples and the viewers at home. Referred to regularly as a gentleman, he brought us moves like The Dessie Swim (where Byrne rode Cahill like a dolphin across the floor) and wooed us as a matador and a mechanic.

On Sunday night, he brought us a new character called Dessie Swayze as he jived to Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance) by The Contours… Dirty Dancing style. Since his first lift last week, he’s gained confidence and twirls and lifts our Karen around like a piece of wet lettuce. Redmond applauds his energy and Barry sets him the challenge to match the passion and rhythm of his bottom half with his top half next week, a tip we should all take with us to the grave. Alas, it’s something we will never see and there isn’t a dry eye in Ardmore Studios as we say goodbye.

There is a slight change to the show this week as our dancers have the chance to earn extra points in the Ballroom Blitz. During the BB, our couples jive up a storm until the judges ask them to leave the dancefloor, just like the prom scene from Grease. The BB lasts for a grand total of three minutes and the final couple standing can earn an extra five points. As usual, the votes at home are added to the judges’ scores and the two couples with the lowest combined scores face each other in The DDO, returning the power to the judges instead of those unpredictable voters.

But before the BB, it’s business as usual and first out on the dancefloor, dressed like the dancing emoji girl in her red gúna, is Aoibhín Garrihy. “The closer you get to that end date, the more you want it,” she says in rehearsals and her tango to Shakira’s Objection with partner Vitali Kozmin proves that she really, really wants to win.

It takes two: Vitali Kozmin and Aoibhín Garrihy
It takes two: Vitali Kozmin and Aoibhín Garrihy. Photograph: RTE/Jon Barton

Judges Lorraine Barry and Brian Redmond criticise the couple’s pace, saying that the routine was too fast and furious, but if I know tango like I think I know tango, that seems to be a requirement. That said, they score 25 and even though they were in the DDO, they remain one of the highest scoring couples there.

First-time father Aidan O’Mahony (he and his wife Denise Healy had a baby girl on Thursday) has an extra spring in his step for the cha-cha-cha with his partner Valeria Milova to DNCE’s Cake by the Ocean.

Even though the footballer has loosened up immensely over the past few weeks, Redmond describes his routine as wooden and Barry wants more swing in his hips. Judge Julian Benson joins in the chorus of judging this foot man’s stiff hips and he walks away with 22 points.

Denise McCormack and Ryan McShane suffered harsh criticisms last week so this week, they’re coming in strong with an upbeat Charleston to A Little Party Never Killed Nobody by Fergie, and Barry is practically swinging from the chandeliers with her compliments.

Charleston pap: Denise McCormack and Ryan McShane
Charleston pap: Denise McCormack and Ryan McShane. Photograph: RTE/Jon Barton

“You gave me everything!” she says. Let’s not dive into the hyperbole here, she gave you good Charleston. Redmond says that they had all of the swivels in place and those swivels earn them a long overdue perfect score of 30.

When most children start Irish dancing lessons, they have to imagine a pole keeping them upright. Well, Dayl Cronin and Ksenia Zsikhotska took that pole and gave it the paso doble treatment. Held up by both of their toned torsos, they launch into a vigorous routine to Bamboléo by Gipsy Kings that involves something the professionals call “knee drops”.

Powerful Paso: Dayl Cronin and Ksenia Zsikhotska
Powerful Paso: Dayl Cronin and Ksenia Zsikhotska. Photograph: RTE/Jon Barton

Tonight, they prove that they have control and discipline to win. “One, hot, fierce, paso!” roars Benson, almost bursting a vein, and they earn 27 points. They later win the Ballroom Blitz with a daring duck, jump n’ lift – all correct technical terms – bringing their score up to 32.

With the quarter finals out of the way, we will see Cronin, Garrihy and McCormack – the show’s strongest dancers from the very beginning – in the semi-finals. With the absence of Cahill, the heart and soul of the show, expect a merciless bloodbath. Just kidding. But get ready for the real competition to begin.