Dublin Rose Aisling Finnegan swaps tracksuit for tiara ahead of Rose of Tralee
Dubliner Aisling Finnegan will swap her gym gear and runners for ball gowns and stilettos when she competes in this year's Rose of Tralee competition.
The Rathcoole brunette (25) is representing Dublin in the international pageant, which is far removed from her sporty day job.
"I'm a physiotherapist and Pilates instructor, so this is so different from what I normally do on a weekday afternoon. Normally, I'd be in my tracksuit," she told the Herald.
The bubbly Rose is based in Clondalkin's First Physio Plus and also works with various sports teams including Naas Rugby Club and soccer star Stephanie Roche's former side Peamount FC.
"Unfortunately, Stephanie was gone when I started with the ladies' team, but they're an amazing side. I played team sports growing up, but never at that level. The commitment they put in is amazing," said Aisling.
"They give the men a run for their money."
While many little girls dream of being crowned the Rose of Tralee, Aisling admitted she was sceptical about entering the competition until a friend twisted her arm.
"I wouldn't have actively sought to be the Dublin Rose, but I've always watched the Rose of Tralee," she said.
"One of my friends was an escort a few years ago and he told me I should do it because it's so much fun.
"He told me to give it a go, and I've had a brilliant time so far.
"We had a garda escort through my hometown, Rathcoole, and everyone was out cheering with banners. I was so emotional. I'm not an emotional person normally, but it was just amazing."
While most Roses sing and dance to impress the judges, the former Glasgow Caledonian University student hinted that she has an unusual talent up her sleeve.
"I have a little surprise in store for people. I don't have a talent per se, but it's more an activity that shocks," she said.
With the fashion stakes higher than ever, Aisling is in the capable hands of stylist Blanaid Hennessy, the owner of cult store Folkster, who is kitting her out for the festival and next week's grand finale.
"I'll be wearing a Theia dress by Kerry designer Don O'Neill, and the minute I put on the dress I knew it was the one - as dramatic as that sounds," said Aisling.