Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Odds-on rivalry as bookie takes bets on Strictly winner

Preparations are in full swing for the panel of twenty dancers who will strut their stuff on the Crossmaglen-style Strictly Come Dancing stage later this month.

In a joint fundraiser for Crossmaglen Rangers GFC and Upper Creggan Lourdes (founded 1963) group, the ten couples will put their best feet forward, literally, when they perform in the Carrickdale Hotel on Friday 29th May.

Having been teamed with their partners in recent weeks, the dancers are spending hours honing their skills under the tutelage of dance master, Shane Berger.

With many of the cast having little or no dancing experience, this may be seen as an impediment but not so, Shane assures.

Undaunted at the task of helping the couples perfect their dance moves, Shane says he is delighted at the commitment being shown by all the dancers, some of whom are devoting seven nights a week to practice.

“They couldn’t train much harder,” he said, adding that a few “are starting to feel the pain”.

“Some have a wee bit of dancing experience and some have none at all, but they’re coming on in leaps and bounds.  There’s going to be a few surprises on the night!” he joked.

And just to pile on the pressure, local bookmaker Eugene Hanratty is accepting bets from those keen to predict the overall winner.

Robert McAllister and Louise McKeever have taken an early lead with odds of 11/4, while the pairings of Josephine Murray and Bernard Reel, and Patricia Kernan and Peadar McCoy, are a close second at 4/1 each.

The full list of dance pairings and their odds are: Caroline Brady and Gerard Moley (16/1); Johnny Hanratty and Emma Traynor (16/1); Joanne Caraher and Seamus Gorman (7/1); Bernard Reel and Josephine Murray (4/1); Patricia Kernan and Peadar McCoy (4/1); Robert McAllister and Louise McKeever (11/4); Sabrina Rowland and Paddy Hughes (6/1);

Gerard McKeown and Tara O’Callaghan (8/1); Eimear Donaldson and Ken Mackin (8/1); Fergal McMahon and Michelle McConville (6/1).

Bets are restricted to a maximum of £2.00 and can be place at Hanratty’s Turf Accountants in Crossmaglen.

Class master Shane says the hard work is interjected by “craic and banter” and although reluctant to single out his star pupil – or indeed the one with two left feet – he did reveal that “big Johnny Hanratty” has been placed at the front of the class.

At this point, it should be noted that the front of the class is not to be confused with top of the class and perhaps Johnny’s fancy footwork is confined to the football field.  Only time will tell.

“We’ve a good cast of local characters and personalities who really enjoy the banter,” Shane says.  “There’s a few dark horses within the cast, and a few fancy moves being thrown about,” adding that things are starting to get “a wee bit competitive”.

It has been reported that some of the male dancers are spending the remainder of their spare time in the gym, working on their upper body strength with the aim of perfecting the “high lifts” required for their repertoire, although The Examiner had difficulty in finding evidence to substantiate this claim.

In the run-up to the big night, the teams are organizing a number of fringe fundraising events which include a car wash to be held at B Reel Motors, Silverbridge this Saturday 16th May; a Coffee Morning in Cullyhanna GFC following mass on Sunday 17th and a Bus Pull taking place later that same day in the Square, Crossmaglen and also a movie afternoon in the Rangers Hall on the same day from 3pm.

For more information and to follow the dancers’ progress visit the Strictly Come Dancing facebook page