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Crouch, touch, pause, engage - Johnny is latest to pop question

RUGBY hero Jonathan Sexton has scored the ultimate conversion - his long-term girlfriend is now his fiancee.

The Herald can exclusively reveal that the notoriously private couple were engaged several weeks ago, but managed to keep their secret to themselves.

Jonathan (27) is the latest on the Leinster side to crouch, touch, pause and engage -- and this time it was with his childhood sweetheart Laura Priestly.

However, it's not all good news in the love stakes for Leinster after it emerged at the weekend that fullback Rob Kearney (26) has ended his relationship with actress Susie Amy (31).

It's understood that the couple were unable to juggle the demands of a long-term relationship with busy careers.



Market

The Louth fullback was voted the hottest man in Ireland just last week and now he is back on the market after his three-year relationship with the Footballers' Wives star ended amicably.

The couple attended the wedding of Rob's Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy to model Aoife Coogan at St Macartan's Cathedral in Monaghan in July.

Now Jonathan and Laura are lining up to be the next Leinster and Ireland couple to walk up the aisle.

Laura is a secondary school teacher from Dublin and the pair have been inseparable since leaving school.

However, the couple managed to keep a low profile throughout the Ireland player's rise to stardom.

The Leinster out-half, who played a major role in the side's victory over Munster at the weekend, was with his fiancee to open the new Debra Ireland Butterfly Garden in Kilashee House, Naas.

The garden is designed as a place of peace and tranquillity to remember everyone who battles with a painful skin condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB), which causes the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch.

It was the culmination of a long-term dream of sufferer Emma Fogarty to create a garden that would attract butterflies. Children with EB are known as 'butterfly children' as their skin is as delicate as a butterfly's wings.

And the rugby player said he was encouraged to become involved after meeting Emma (28).

"I first came to do a photocall with Debra for a run they were doing. That was when I met Emma for the first time," Jonathan said.

"I had no intention of getting involved in another charity, but to see what Emma goes through every day and the positivity that she brings, she is an absolute inspiration."



Awe

DJ Ray D'Arcy, his partner Jenny Kelly, and their two children, Kate and baby Tom, were also there to mark the opening of the venue. And even Hollywood star Colin Farrell, who met Emma Fogarty along with Herald readers at a special dinner two years ago, sent his regards.

"No doubt it (the garden) will bring awe and inspiration, as Emma does," he said in an email sent especially on the day.

Debra Ireland have targeted achieving 200 new direct debit contracts to help keep a mobile nurse on the road to aid parents change bandages. For more, visit www.debraireland.org

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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