'Scrapping Rose cull was right', says bookies favourite for Rose of Tralee Maria Coughlan
A FORMER All-Ireland Irish dancing champion from north Dublin has become one of the bookies' favourites to win this year's Rose of Tralee.
Teacher Maria Coughlan (25), who works at a national school on Dublin's Griffith Avenue, has been installed as one of the front-runners in this year's festival final in Tralee.
The Malahide woman gave her opinion on the decision to scrap a controversial segment of the contest, which saw the 64 Roses being filmed as they learned if they were one of the 33 who had made it through to the live finals.
Critics dubbed the segment the "Rose cull", with many questioning if such a section was necessary.
"It's hard to know really because, first of all, there's no harm in trying out something new," she said.
"But I think second, most people agree that it's probably nicer to keep those things in private.
"Of course, there were pros to the documentary as well because it probably gave an insight into how much fun everyone has.
"I suppose that was just one little aspect that maybe just didn't need to be done."
No stranger to clocking up victories, Maria was one of the top Irish dancers in the country.
She's been World Champion twice and has won the All-Ireland five times, as well as being Dublin regional winner.
She decided to hang up her dancing shoes last summer and since then has set up her own dance school, in addition to blogging about her colourful career on website Twinkle Toes.
She said she now has more time to pursue other interests, such as entering the Rose of Tralee, with the televised finals taking place on August 21 and 22.
"I suppose I always had an interest in doing it," she said.
"It was always something I was curious about. From a very young age I would watch it every single year so it was always something that excited me.
"I knew I wanted to finish Irish dancing and finish competing and have the time to go out and meet everybody.
"We are all lovely but that's not all we are and life will go on. The festival will stop and at the end of it, we'll hand over our sashes and life will continue."