Cathy McKenna wins Great Irish Bake Off after tense battle with Emer Hough and Clare Ryan in final
A dramatic, tear-filled season of the Great Irish Bake Off has come to an end as Cathy McKenna was named this year's winner.
It was a tight final between Monaghan woman Cathy and her fellow bakers Emer Hough and Clare Ryan and the judges said it was a hard choice to make.
"It feels absolutely amazing to be the winner of the Bake Off, I cannot believe it," Cathy said.
"So I'm just going to grab the bull by the horns now and try to make the most of this."
The finalists had to tackle a final technical bake of 'Three Deconstructed Apple Crumbles' and a Showstopper Challenge - where they were given five hours to bake a 'Three-Tier Wedding Cake' with a love theme that had to be decorated and be at least 20 inches high.
While Cathy impressed the judges with her Harvest Moon Wedding Cake, things didn't go so well for Emer.
She went for a 'Love is Precious' cake which consisted of a one-tier rainbow cake to celebrate the 'Yes' vote in the marriage referendum.
However, disaster struck when Emer's cake went lopsided, leaving her in tears.
Top pastry chef Paul Kelly said it was hard to choose between the three bakers.
"That was one of the toughest decisions we have ever made in a final, it was so close," he said.
Judge Lilly Higgins said, “Cathy was a standout baker from all twelve for an unusual reason and it’s the incredible flavour combinations that she brought, it made us think and stop and reconsider the flavours, it was outstanding baking.”
Despite her loss, Limerick native Emer (32) said she was delighted to have entered the competition.
"Unfortunately it didn't go well, but that doesn't cancel out all the experiences that came before that. I am delighted I came, I really am'," she said.
Cathy has already been inundated with orders for cakes thanks to the publicity from the show.
"I've had more orders already and I'm hoping after the final airs I will have even more," she said.
"My eventual goal is to be able to make a living from baking and confectionery - whether that will lead me on the road of opening a cafe, bakery or working at home, I don't know yet."
Meanwhile, Emer was recently commissioned to make a birthday cake for rugby legend Paul O'Connell's mum.
"I'm delighted to be getting so many enquiries," she said.