Rugby hero sidesteps the jibes to join Rose of Tralee team
I was at the Rose of Tralee Festival once when a gang of us went for the craic -- we jumped in over the railings
RONAN O'Gara has 'fessed up to his guilty TV addiction -- watching the Rose of Tralee.
The Munster and Ireland number 10 loves the Kerry festival show so much that he has decided to sidestep the slagging and has agreed to be Newbridge Silverware's representative on the 2011 judging panel.
"My wife slags me a lot about it but I'd be glued to the Rose of Tralee every year," he said.
"I'm a traditionalist. Some people think it's cheesy or whatever. I'd be very proud of being Irish and it's nice to see the amusement and the enjoyment so many families get out of the whole programme."
Swapping his green jersey for a tuxedo, Ronan posed James Bond style with the current rose of Tralee, Clare Kambamettu, and said he felt "honoured to perform this very important role".
Ronan will perform a series of special Rose of Tralee festival duties and appearances on behalf of the lead sponsor, Newbridge Silverware.
They include the regional finals in Portlaoise in June and other festival milestones during the summer.
However, there is the whole issue of the Rugby World Cup which starts in New Zealand on September 9.
Schedule permitting, Ronan will line out on the judging panel in Tralee in mid-August.
"I'm hoping to be at the main event. That's what I'm focussing on. Obviously rugby is my primary focus and you would not know if that is a rest period or a period of intense training and that will dictate my availability."
Born in 1977 in San Diego, California, the 'returned emigrant' nostalgia factor is not why he likes the RTE show, said Ronan, who denies being a 'closet' Rose fan. "Not at all, all the boys in the team know I like it. I was at the Rose of Tralee Festival once when a gang of us went for the racing and the craic the year we finished school. We camped for a week and I think we jumped in over the railings and sneaked into the festival a few nights," he said.
The birth of his three children, two-year-old twins Molly and Rua, and eight-month-old JJ, has impacted on TV viewing in the O'Gara household.
"I don't watch that much TV and my life has changed now with kids.
"It's nice to chill out from nine to 10 when they are in bed. I watch the news and essentially 95pc of what I watch on TV is sport -- tennis, golf, rugby, horse racing and soccer," said the Liverpool supporter.
"I never thought I'd be watching Barney, Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and Postman Pat but they are all the rage at home."
Meanwhile, details of the remaining four judges will be announced in advance of this year's festival, which runs from August 19-23.
Anyone who wishes to enter their county selection is invited to download an application form at www.roseoftralee.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org