Revealed: Irish rugby star Sean O'Brien is dating Mayo footballer Sarah Rowe, one of the GAA's fastest rising stars
Irish rugby star Sean O'Brien has fallen for a fellow athlete, Independent.ie Style can reveal.
The Leinster and Ireland player, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, went 'Instagram official' with new girlfriend Sarah Rowe, a Mayo footballer who is one of the GAA's fastest rising stars at just 22 years old.
Rowe, a biology and PE student at Dublin City University (DCU), is a one woman balancing act between training, studying full-time and brand ambassador roles with Lidl and O'Neill's. The couple have been dating for a number of months and have made no secret of their burgeoning romance as they attended a black tie gala together in April.
But Sean was uncharacteristically forthcoming about his relationship on social media, sharing pictures with his other half on their first holiday to Corfu, Greece. "A super week in Greece made even better by having this beaut with me! Back to work tomorrow and cannot wait," he captioned a selection of pictures of them making the most of their time away.
Similarly, Sarah gushed: "Apart from the fact that he thought the mosquitos [sic] had a personal problem with him, a lovely week in Corfu with the BM."
Most of the Irish rugby squad are taking this opportunity for some downtime abroad with Conor Murray and girlfriend Joanna Cooper fresh from a romantic trip to Barcelona, and are currently sunning themselves with Rob Kearney and his long-term girlfriend Jess Redden in Portugal.
Rowe comes from strong GAA roots - her grandfather Paddy Jordan was a member of the 1951 Mayo All-Ireland winning team, stories of which inspired her own love of the game. And she previously said that sport has not only given her friends for life, but also helps her take a step back to appreciate the important things in life and not get wrapped up in social media culture, which is something of a rarity having grown up in a digital native generation.
"Young women are looking at picture-perfect images on Instagram. Social media is taking over at the moment. So many of these pictures are fake; they're perfectly posed and the sooner people realise that the better. Young girls shouldn't be taken in by them," she said.
"I do look at Instagram and I do look at social media but I keep it to a minimum. The main thing is distinguishing between the realism and how fake it can be. It can bring out insecurities," she says.
"I think it's important to be happy in yourself and not to compare yourself to other people. You have to remember that there are things about you that are special."
It's clear Rowe takes her role model status seriously and in 2016, she spoke of her frustrations at the lack of funding for women's GAA teams, which resulted in players taking turns bringing food to training and having to arrange their own transport to matches because a team bus isn't always within their budget.
"It definitely impacts on players, but we're nearly so used to it at this stage that it feels normal, we don't complain about it because it's not going to change anyway," she said. "It's not acceptable, definitely not. When I look at any boys' team - and I've talked to a few of them - I realise that I train more than them and they get way more than I've ever gotten.
"No lads team would put up with the conditions we train and play in, they would go nuts. The lads complain that the game isn't professional, while we'd settle for a bit of food."
O'Brien previously dated Miriam O'Callaghan's PR executive daughter Georgia McGurk and had an on-off romance with Denise Smyth for two years.