stive scrum as crowds line out to mob Ronan O’Gara
IRELAND and Munster rugby hero Ronan O'Gara shifted the goalposts on Santa yesterday, sparking a festive rush in Dublin that rivalled the man in the red suit.
Ironically, the rugby love-in took place in the very heartland of Leinster and southside Dublin retailing, Dundrum Town Centre, where appreciative blues fans and hard-core Drummies put aside provincial team differences to queue to meet the legendary No 10.
Mr O'Gara arrived in Dundrum to officially open the Newbridge Silverware Room at House of Fraser, three weeks after he opened a Cork store for the Irish jewellery and lifestyle company.
It was a momentous and busy weekend for the 34-year-old Corkman. Fresh from his 100th Heineken Cup cap, and a 17-14 victory against Scarlets, Mr O'Gara drove up from Limerick for a two-hour Newbridge signing session.
And it wasn't just the non-playing rugby alickadoos who lined out for a chance to meet Ireland's leading points scorer. Pro-active grannies arrived with jerseys to be signed, while mums offered babies to be kissed and photographed during the busy meet-and-greet session.
The queue snaked out of House of Fraser where Mr O'Gara sat with the 2011 Rose of Tralee, Tara Talbot. Retailers weren't complaining either as the personal appearance triggered sales of Mr O'Gara's autobiography, which was sold out at Easons, and he also sparked a lightening run on rugby balls and jerseys.
After a tough week training and a match next weekend, Mr O'Gara admitted he is looking forward to getting into the Christmas spirit with his wife Jessica and their three children, Rua, Molly and JJ, after a year which saw him away in New Zealand for the World Cup.
"I can't wait for Christmas. We have a big week of training this week, and then hopefully we can enjoy Christmas," Mr O'Gara said.
After Saturday night's 17-14 win, Mr O'Gara conceded that while his 100 caps was a big achievement, it's wasn't something he was dwelling on while his playing career is still in full swing.
"It's a significant milestone but I've my foot on the accelerator and I'm not looking back," he declared.
Pressed about future plans, Mr O'Gara said he would be "stupid" to put a timeline on his career.
As for an exit strategy, Mr O'Gara said, "I think it's hugely important that I associate myself with top companies."
He said his sponsors, including Newbridge Silverware and Adidas, were "very loyal and it is important that I have a personal relationship with these people and see how you can build on things going forward".