Ex-hosts rise to icy challenge as Roses are neck-and-neck in race for title
IT WAS a tight finish but even Rose of Tralee insiders admitted this year's winner was a hard choice.
And right up until the time the winner was announced at The Dome last night, three Roses were neck and neck with Carlow, Philadelphia and Abu Dhabi emerging as the bookies' choice, followed hotly by Laois and Dubai.
Ice buckets featured but it was the Roses that reigned supreme at the Rose of Tralee in The Dome last night.
Presenters past and present joined in the fun and even Ray D'Arcy, who presented the show for five years, interrupted his holiday in Spain to rise to the challenge set by Daithi O Se the previous night.
Ryan Tubridy dutifully rose to the occasion at the end of his radio show by having a bucket of ice water poured over his head and all to raise awareness, and money, for Motor Neuron Disease.
Even Marty Whelan who's 84 - according to his cheeky successor O Se - admirably rose to the occasion having a bucket of ice-water dumped on his head, following his nomination at The Dome.
But back on dry land on stage, Boston and New England Rose Michelle Prior got the show started.
O Se even came face to face with a possible relative, by marriage at least.
New Zealand's Lisa Bazola revealed her grandfather Michael Talty hailed from Milltown Malbay, Co Clare.
The name is shared by Daithi's own father-in-law who comes from that part of the country.
She said her Irish-born boyfriend of five years, Vinnie Schumacher, would be watching from home.
Cork Rose and camogie captain Anna Geary - a dead ringer for 2008 Rose Aoife Kelly - said she was more nervous about tripping on stage than she was about her upcoming All-Ireland semi-final clash on August 23.
Despite the fun and frolics of the previous night, viewership dropped from its 522,600 average last year.
The first half of Monday night's show was watched by 426,500 viewers while 514,000 tuned in for the second part after the news.