Dancing with the Stars: ‘I’m a McGregor. I’m a fighter. Just like my brother’

Erin McGregor, Conor’s sister, stole the show from Maia Dunphy, Norah Casey and the rest

Erin McGregor, fitness model and sister of UFC star Conor McGregor, lights up Dancing with the Stars along with her dancing partner Ryan McShane. Video: RTÉ

 

Oh, yes, it’s ladies night and the feeling’s… alright. Last week on Dancing with the Stars, we got to grips with the male celebrities, their fancy footwork and Marty Morrissey’s impending role as the one true leader but this week, it’s all about the wimmin’. And Conor McGregor because… when isn’t it?

With his sister Erin topping the leaderboard tonight and the leaderboard overall, judges Loraine Barry, Darren Bennett and Brian Redmond are dazzled by her celebrity (by proxy) and they are tripping over themselves in delivering compliments for her and all the dancers this evening.

Veering on uneventful – it’s almost too nice – this evening’s show rolls out slowly. 

Anna Geary and Kai Widdrington dancing a tango to ‘Rebel Rebel ‘by David Bowie on Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ
Anna Geary and Kai Widdrington dancing a tango to ‘Rebel Rebel‘ by David Bowie on Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ

Corkonian camogie champ Anna Geary is the first on the dance floor to take on the tango to David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel. The tango is “a serious and fiery” dance, according to her partner Kai Widdrington, but tonight it feels lukewarm and as they work a camán into their routine, they deserve to get a bit of stick (geddit?) for a gimmick like that. Which they never get. Judge Loraine Barry applauds Geary’s perfect left arm and her staccato rhythm in her Viennese crosses but Brian Redmond, ever the contrarian, criticises her right arm. But whatever about her arms, her feet were exactly where they should be and she walks away with the high score of 21 points.

Britain’s Next Top Model finalist Alannah Beirne was late to the line-up of DWTS, standing in for former Miss Ireland Aoife Walsh who fractured her toe in rehearsals. Under the strict eye of her partner Vitali Milova, there’s no room for messing. Not even for the staged banter in their rehearsal footage. Their waltz to Moon River seems seamless and to the trained eyes of the judges, even if her arm lets her down and her rises were a little bit too sharp, they say that it was still exquisite and dish out 20 points.

Maia Dunphy dancing the cha cha with Robert Rowinski on Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ
Maia Dunphy dancing the cha cha with Robert Rowinski on Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ

But they weren’t so generous to Maia Dunphy. The journalist, author and broadcaster casually meets her dancing partner Robert Rowinski for the first time at the book signing of her latest book The M Word (available now in all good book shops!! – there’s always time for a plug on this show) – and this is also the first time we’ve come across Rowinski, the newest dancer on the block. Perhaps in an attempt to prove his worth, he puts Dunphy to the test with a challenging cha cha and while they pick up the much-needed pace, She fails to slither like a snake through the pro-dancer’s legs and she stumbles, when she should shine. The judges criticise Rowinski for throwing such a daunting routine at her in the first week but they see huge potential and give her 13 points.

“People have a perception of me, sometimes, of a bit of a dragon,” says Dragon’s Den star Norah Casey, teasing some drama, “I hope that inside I can prove that I’m a nice person.” The show isn’t called Dancing with the Nice Person, Norah, it’s Dancing with the Stars and with lines like “It’s not Copper Face Jacks at 2 o’clock, I’ll tell you that”, but oh! we might just keep you. With her partner Curtis Pritchard, her foxtrot to Tara O’Grady’s Nora is very sweet but are the judges swayed by its simplicity? Well, they are absolutely floored. Words like tasteful, endearing and soft are thrown about – even Redmond is swooning – and they give her 15 points.

Norah Casey during her foxtrot routine with Curtis Pritchard on Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ
Norah Casey during her foxtrot routine with Curtis Pritchard on Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ

“I’m a McGregor. I’m a fighter. Just like my brother.” And just like her brother, fitness coach Erin McGregor is a fiend for the inspirational quotes but will she get ballroom dancing to the same status as UFC in Ireland? We can only pray and hope. And vote. In rehearsal footage, she says that she’s been getting motion sickness from all the spinning and when she hits the dance floor for her salsa we see why. In the most adventurous move in the series so far, her partner Ryan McShane twirls her around over his head like she’s a Cuisine de France baguette. Colour us impressed. Redmond says there was an animalistic quality to her routine, adding that she’s a lioness and not a koala (…what?). Scoring 23 points, she gets the highest marks of the series so far.

For more than 25 years, comedian and actor Deirdre O’Kane has entertained people so the fact that she is an incredible dancer shouldn’t be much of a surprise. She puts in the work but makes it seem so easy. Jiving to Imelda May’s Mayhem, her legs are quicker than her wit and her partner John Nolan seems positively chuffed. Redmond compliments her legs, Barry praises her pink-fringed dress and Bennett loves her moves – they give her 18 points.

Deirdre O’Kane and John Edward Nolan dancing a Jive during the second show of Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ
Deirdre O’Kane and John Edward Nolan dancing a Jive during the second show of Dancing with the Stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien/RTÉ

 As we are still getting to know our stars so everything remains tame and with the absence of a fully-fledged Marty Party, this week’s show lacked any real excitement but there’s a competitive streak in GAA player Geary, and McGregor that shall surely put some fire into the next few weeks.

Votes for the first two weeks will carry over to next week’s show, which will see the first elimination. Was this week’s niceness just an attempt to warm up to the voters at home? Was Norah Casey just trying to throw us off with her plea to be considered a nice person? Will Deirdre O’Kane up the ante and get cutthroat in her moves? Will Maia Dunphy seek vengeance for her low score?

We’ve got the formal introductions out of the way; it’s time to get serious.

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