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Former Dublin footballer, not to mention five-time All Ireland winner Denis Bastick has been revealed as the seventh contestant for this year's Dancing With The Stars.

The star sat down with The Nicky Byrne Show on 2FM live to comment on why he swapped his football boots for some dancing shoes to try his hand at winning series three's glitterball;

“I really feel that this will be a great experience for me. It is completely different than anything I have ever done before. Since retiring from Dublin football I always wanted to try new things, I never imagined that this would be one of those things though!"

Commenting further on his career so far, Bastick said;

"Football has given me a huge sense of accomplishment and DWTS is now presenting me with a massive challenge and the opportunity to accomplish something that is in such contrast to what I’m used to."

The contestant also expressed his nerves at the idea of competing at such a high level of dancing, but he's got a whole team of support from his Dublin GAA fanbase.

Speaking about the standard of dance which is expected of the show's participants, Bastick said;

"I am slightly overwhelmed at the task in hand having seen what the dancers can do. They have amazing, athleticism, rhythm and coordination. I have probably one of those qualities so I will really need to put the work in!”

Denis will join Clelia Murphy, Mairead Ronan, Eilish O’Carroll, Darren Kennedy, Fred Cooke and Holly Carpenter on series three of the hit show.

Jennifer Zamparelli and Nicky Byrne are this year's official presenters, and the series will air on RTÉ One for 12 weeks from Sunday 6 January.

Dancing With The Stars has a grand total of 11 celebrities, who pair up with their professional dancing partners as they cross their boundaries and try an entirely new talent.

Stepping onto the dancefloor to compete for the much-coveted glitter ball trophy, each pair will have a different dancing genre to master every week. The duos will have just seven days to perfect their routine before performing live on national television. 

The expert panel of judges Brian Redmond, Loraine Barry and Julian Benson are returning again this year. The celebrities and their dancers will be scored by the judges and the viewing audiences at home.

The treats don't end there for viewers; Can’t Stop Dancing, the preview show hosted by Bláthnaid Treacy, will be back on our screens on Friday, 4 January on RTÉ One

All of the glitz, glamour and gossip that happens behind the scenes will be delved into. Get the low down from the judges, the professional dancers and the stars before the main action begins. 

We absolutely CANNOT WAIT for Sunday 6 January, get yourselves ready.

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Anna Geary confirmed her engagement to Kevin Sexton earlier this week with the most romantic Instagram snap.

The GAA star shared a photo of her engagement ring placed in a red rose. She captioned the snap of the beautiful bouquet, “The easiest yes…”Yes a thousand times” xxx”

The sportswoman may be on cloud nine, but her initial reaction to the engagement wasn’t your typical response. There was no jumping up and down and tears when Kevin got down on one knee.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Anna Geary (@annagcork) on

She admitted she thought Kevin had somehow managed to injure himself during their stroll. She told Ryan Tubridy: “We went for a walk, it was very simple. I was in my runners and my leggings and my trenchcoat.”

“And then all of a sudden, I was like 'Oh my god he's had three knee operations, his knee's after going! What's after happening?' and I found that he's down on one knee,” the Dancing With The Stars contestant revealed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Anna Geary (@annagcork) on

The Cork native said the moment was so surreal she can barely remember it: “And sure I don't remember anything else, it was a blur because he was saying what he was saying and I was going 'Oh my god oh my god oh my god'."

The All-Ireland champion was so stunned by the gesture she even asked Kevin, “'What are you doing?!'”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Anna Geary (@annagcork) on

"So that was fierce romantic out of me. But it was fab,” the 30-year-old said.

Could Anna’s reaction be any more Irish? Huge congratulations to the happy couple.

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“The young lads went overboard but this is what young lads do on occasion. They have suffered far too much.”

This was a comment written by Billy Keane, in the comment section of The Irish Independent, in the wake of the Ballyragget scandal.

In case you need a bit of refreshing on the Ballyragget case, a scandal erupted in the small Kilkenny village after some photos of the intermediate hurling team celebrating a club victory went viral.

There were strippers involved, and claims that one of them, Fifi, was paid for performing a sex act on a player.

But of course, instead of being thoroughly investigated for their viral (literally thousands of people saw the pictures and videos) misconduct, the men (not boys, not “young lads”, but grown-ass men) were given nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

This culture of ‘boys will boys’ and ‘it’s just a bit of craic’ is a cover for a much deeper misogyny that has reared its ugly head in Ireland recently. We’ve had enough, it’s time for Ireland’s #TimesUp moment.

If the trial of four rugby players, including Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, has shown us anything it’s that ‘lad culture’ is strong in sport- and that sport will stop at nothing to protect its own.

Let me preface this by saying that I have absolutely nothing against rugby or the GAA. Sport is a fantastic way of bringing families, communities and entire countries together. It is a treasured social outlet for many men and women. Professional and dedicated sportspeople deserve our highest respect, but that does not mean that they are above the law, despite their acquittal of all charges clearly stating otherwise. 

Male GAA and rugby stars command the same amount of notoriety and power, as film stars and Hollywood hotshots do in the United States. We’re a small nation, so to make it big, most of our actors and musicians head for the bright lights of the States or London. But one thing we refuse to export are sportspeople.

In rugby, our national team have taken on Goliaths like England, France and the All Blacks, and we’ve won. This is an immense source of Irish pride, and it’s hard not to feel something when our team is given the Six Nations or places in the World Cup.

Those men (and women, the ladies team deserve far more recognition than they get) are representing us, they are Ireland on the pitch.

So, what happens when one of our stars is accused of rape? The “lads only club” kicks in.

Lad culture and rugby are synonymous. Don’t believe me? Ross O’Carroll-Kelly created an entire series about it.

According to a report published by the National Union of Students in the UK, Lad Culture in universities is damaging and sexist. Lad Culture can be defined as a version of masculinity that promotes pack mentality, excessive drinking, multiple sexual partners and overtly homophobic, sexist and aggressive language in the form of “banter”.

While the study focuses on Lad Culture in universities, it does note the connection between sports and ‘laddisms’.

“‘Lad Culture’ was thought to be particularly influential in the social side of university life,” states the report.

“Extracurricular activities and sports in particular were singled out as key sites, and it was reported that sexism in such environments could spill over into sexual harassment and humiliation.”

This ‘banter’, while explicitly sexual and violent is usually dismissed as “just a bit of craic”. Speaking out about it or challenging offensive sexual speak leaves us to open to being called “dry”, “hysterical”, or even worse, “one of those man-hating feminists”.

Women, and men, uncomfortable with these laddisms are left to suffer in silence- or even become compliant and join in on the ‘banter’.

The ‘banter’ flying about the Whatsapp group the morning after the aforementioned alleged rape further proves this.

The morning after the acts took place, one of the rugby players posted a selfie of himself with three female party-goers, captioned “Love Belfast sluts.” 

Charming. 

A friend replied, “Boys, did you lads spit roast lasses? Legends!! … why are we all such legends?” to which the man responded: “I know. It’s ridiculous.” 

The conversation continued on a similar vein, with one message asking if the women were “Brassers”- Belfast slang for prostitutes.

“Two days after the alleged rape, at 11.28am,” writes The Irish Independent. “Mr McIlroy sent a message to a friend stating: ‘Pumped a bird with Jacko on Monday. Roasted her. Then another on Tuesday night.’”

To be honest, they sound more like they were describing a chicken dinner, than actual sex. 

Image result for me too

Rape jokes and other such lad culture tripe serve to dehumanise women, completely disregarding any kind of consent. She is no longer a woman, sister, daughter, friend. She is a “bird” waiting to be “pumped” and “roasted”.

The fact that that defence lawyer called these texts a "titillating sideshow", only proves the power of misogynistic power of "banter" over a woman's right to speak her truth. 

This is not just ‘banter’ between team mates, it’s symptomatic of a wider disregard for consent. In the words of Stuart Olding, “I didn't force myself on her. I presume she wanted it to happen. She didn't have to stay, she could have left.”

Okay, let’s break this one down.

They’re rugby players, it’s literally their job to be as physically strong as possible. By his own admission, Olding had consumed “eight cans of Carlsberg beer, four pints of Guinness, two gins, five vodka and lemonades and three shots of tequila and sambuca.” Combine an athletics physical strength with that amount of alcohol and even what might not seem to be any force for them could literally crush a normal person.

Now to, “I presume she wanted it to happen.”

No. Just, no.

He “presumed” she wanted to have sex with him, because why wouldn't she? They’ve constantly been told that they’re brilliant since they were tackling a teddy in their cribs. In Ireland, the recognition that sports receive is the equivalent to a Hollywood A-lister. Why wouldn't any woman want you? It goes with the territory. Wrong.

Couple this egotism with the laddist ignoring consensual conversations, any regard for the woman’s wishes in this situation has been ignored.

As the old saying goes, “If you assume, you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’.”

And apparently, none of this was enough to actually convict any of them. All four have walked free. 

It’s not funny, it’s not banter. It’s the last bastion of overt and accepted misogyny of our so-called “equal” society.

Like I said before, sport is not the only area where “lad culture” flourishes.

Sport doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the team bond and their visibility make them an excellent place for open conversation, debate and education. Just look at soccer's 'Give Respect, Get Respect' Campaign. Yeah, it didn't solve racism but at least it CALLED IT OUT.  

Take a look at the Times Up movement in the States, it’s only once we start an open and inclusive conversation can this be fixed. Dragging the problem kicking and screaming into the spotlight instead of writing it off as just another grey area.

The days of hushing sexual assault and harassment under the carpet embroidered “boys will be boys” are over. Let’s take what happened in Belfast as a beginning, a beginning of a brighter, healthier, more inclusive era for Ireland’s sports teams.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to talk about consent, not just women. It starts with a simple replacing of “It’s just a bit of craic” with “Lads, cut it out.” It starts with saying "I believe her". 

Just because they've walked away, doesn't mean that women are going to be silenced.  We owe it to her to speak up. We owe it to ourselves, our sisters, friends, co-workers to call time on this bullshit perception that men can get away with saying and doing whatever they want. 

We owe it to our daughters, to be able to tell them that we're the reason that they can go out and feel safe. 

We owe it to our sons, to teach them that real men respect women. 

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Tonight, Operation Transformation will launch their new initiative in association with the GAA. 

In  bid to get Irish people off the couch and out walking, GAA clubs around the country have pledged to 'light up' tonight. 

Ireland Lights Up will see clubs turn on the floodlights and lighting systems at their pitches to create a safe space for communities to come together for a stroll. 

'The GAA are delighted to be partnering up with RTÉ's Operation Transformation and Get Ireland Walking to bring together communities across the 32 counties to enjoy healthy walks in the safe, bright, environs of their GAA Clubs,' said Aogán Ó Fearghail, GAA President.

'This reinforces the work of our Healthy Club project and helps our clubs to become hubs for health in their communities.'

'I'm looking forward to getting out with my own club in the coming weeks, who have already sign up to this great initiative.'

'I am thrilled that Operation Transformation and the GAA are teaming up with Get Ireland Walking and GAA clubs across the country to help people get out and about in a bright and safe environment,' said Kathryn Thomas.

'Get Ireland Walking is another great initiative helping people take charge of their own health and fitness and we are delighted to give it our full support.'    

To get your club registered, find out more here

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Following a historic three-in-a-row All-Ireland victory from the Boys in Blue at Croke Park yesterday, it's safe to say that an awful lot of Dublin GAA fans are waking up with sore heads this morning.

But, the party isn't over yet.

Dub supporters will today have the chance to celebrate with the winning team as they descend on Smithfield square for a special homecoming from 6.30pm this evening.

Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha says there's plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the festivities.

"(Smithfield is) a big open-air space with plenty of room for everybody and we'll be greeting the squad after I host a reception at the Mansion House. We look forward to a huge celebration for the 3-in-a-row Dubs."

This is a family-friendly and alcohol-free event and Dublin City Council have asked those who intend on travelling to the homecoming to use public transport.

Commuters should note that the Smithfield Luas stop may be closed from 6pm to 8pm, though the Four Courts and Museum stops will still be in use.

Supporters can gain access to event from North King Street, Friary Avenue and Thundercut Alley.

Let's hope those jerseys aren't too wrecked from yesterday's shenanigans.

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So, in case you weren't aware, there's a pretty big event coming up in the Irish sporting calendar.

This Sunday, Dublin senior footballers will take on Mayo in the GAA All Ireland Final, and it's safe to say people are rather excited about the epic clash.

However, it looks like some GAA fans will be left disappointed after Dublin City Council has confirmed it will not be showing the match on a big screen in Smithfield.

It was previously feared that the event would not go ahead due to the excessive cost of putting it together, though a statement from those in charge has confirmed the decision was made over concerns for local residents.

"To organise three large events in a row, with separate build and take down requirements, is considered an unfair imposition on residents in the area", a statement read.

Dublin City Council said it wants to "apologise for any confusion that may have arisen and wish the Dubs all the best".

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In October 2014, Ger Cunningham was named the new Dublin hurling manager, and now less than three years later, the Corkman has confirmed his time with the team has come to an end.

In a statement which was posted on Dublin GAA.ie, the 55-year-old confirmed rumours which circulated in recent weeks regarding the liklihood he would continue as manager for the Dublin senior team.

"Following on from recent discussions with the Dublin County Board, I wish to confirm that we have agreed by mutual consent not to extend my role as manager of the Dublin senior hurling team beyond 2017," began the statement.

"It has been an honour and indeed a privilege to manage the team and as I leave I have nothing but admiration for the squad of players who have represented Dublin with pride and passion. I want to thank them for their commitment both on and off the field."

"I also want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of my backroom teams over the last three years for their time and dedication to Dublin hurling. Their professionalism and counsel throughout our time together has been invaluable."

"I would like to thank the wider Dublin County Board, in particular Seán Shanley and John Costello, for giving me the opportunity. It's also important to acknowledge the role of the late Andy Kettle, who was Chairman when I was appointed."

Hoping to clarify his position amid recent dicussion, he continued: "There has been a lot of speculation about different aspects of Dublin hurling over the last few months. For the record every decision that my backroom team and I made was always in the best interests of Dublin senior hurling."

"Furthermore, Dublin hurling supporters should be in no doubt that this group of players have massive desire to represent Dublin and possess huge dedication and commitment to their county."

With a nod to the future of the team and his replacement, he finished by writing: "As I leave the position I would like to wish my successor the very best for the future."

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Ticket touting has been a source of considerable discontent in Ireland for decades.

Whether it's for a sporting fixture or music event, the sale of overpriced tickets on the secondary market sparks much heated discussion.

However, it looks like moves are being made to make it a criminal offence following submissions to a public consultation this week.

According to emerging reports, the GAA and the FAI have expressed support for the introduction of legislation which will seek to regulate ticket resale on the secondary market.

Commenting on the proposed legislation, the GAA said: "The current legislation in no way reflects the technological developments of recent decades."

"Touting in its various forms should be classified as a criminal activity with appropriate penalties in place, whether this be on the street, online or private trading of tickets above face value or fraudulent tickets online sites."

Ticketmaster, however, has railed against the idea, stating that the potential move will not yield the desired results.

Confirming their stance on the matter, they said: "Any legislation in Ireland will simply achieve the same effect as seen elsewhere; resale will not cease, it will go offshore and underground – out of the reach of the consumer protection authorities."

The submissions were received by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, with Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor asserting that the 'widest possible debate' must be undertaken before a decision is drawn on the matter.

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They're pretty much one of our fave couples: Andrea Roche model Holly Keating and Michael McCarthy, a former Dublin footballer who lifted the Sam Maguire back in 2011.

And now – we are happy to report – the loved-up duo are ENGAGED!

 

A photo posted by Holly Keating (@hollykeating1) on

Yup, Michael popped the question over the weekend at Co. Wickow's Kilruddery House, with 27-year-old Bray-native Holly immediately saying 'yes!'

We can't say we blame her either: the ring is definitely mega-bling: a gorgeous solitaire stone cut in a circular fashion and flanked by smaller rocks. *Swoon*

Ms Keating also shared a snap of the happy couple on social media – with friends and family quickly rushing to offer their congratulations. 

The pair met on a night out but their relationship really blossomed on Facebook. Although Holly has admitted that at first she wasn't exactly au fait with his chosen sport.

"I didn't even know what shape the ball for Gaelic football was!" she previously told independent.ie.

She added: "I love GAA now. Michael trains four times a week and has a match at the weekend. I'm just in awe of his commitment to it."

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When we picture Sarah Jessica Parker, it's hard not to picture her as Carrie Bradshaw dominating New York streets in her highest heels but it seems SJP loves spending her down time in Donegal.

 

The 51-year-old actress owns a holiday home with her husband Matthew Broderick in Kilcar Co Donegal and it looks like their son James loves it as much as they do.

 

 

A photo posted by James Broderick (@w1lkie) on

 

The 13-year-old has apparently grown to love the area as well as one other Irish tradition.

 

"My son is 13 and has a certain vanity about his appearance that seems age appropriate. He's interested in soccer and GAA," Sarah told the Irish Sun on Sunday.

 

 

I might do this all day long. Cause I love himsez so. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JW! XXX, Mama

A photo posted by SJP (@sarahjessicaparker) on

 

Sarah says that the family, including her son James and her seven-year-old twins Marion and Tabitha all try and get to Ireland as much as possible but unfortunately this year it seems the Donegal town won't see a visit from the A-list family.

 

"We always have a fabulous time in Donegal and I’m sorry we’re not going to be able to make it this year.

 

“It’s one of our happiest places ever, but sadly we have to skip this summer. My in-laws will be visiting instead.”

 

 

SHARE if you'd have any tourist tips for SJP.

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We all know the importance of mental health, but do we always act on it in the best way?

That's what Dublin GAA club, Cuala have picked up on in their compelling video on mental health.

The short clip shows how people treat physical illness compared to mental illness and how we need to care for BOTH.

“What if you couldn’t play the next match, wouldn’t you tell your teammates and your coach?" it asks.

“Wouldn’t you get help from a trained professional and look after yourself?

“And if a teammate was down, wouldn’t you lift them back up?”

The film's producer Colmán McKenna said: "What we wanted to do with the video was to open a discussion about how we look after our mental health, and to try and normalise it, by comparing our mental health to our physical health."

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Kerry football star Paul Galvin is clearly a man of many talents – and off the GAA pitch, he's also undeniably forged a reputation as a fashionisto to be reckoned with. 

Now, after months of rumour and speculation, the 35-year-old has released his menswear collaboration with Dunnes.

Delightfully, it's all very Paul: totaling 21 pieces, fans can choose from several modern-man items such as monochrome tees (think Alexander Wang) dropped crotched joggers, hi-top leather trainers and even a khaki-coloured cape. Prices start from €25 and peak at a reasonable €100.

So far so standard.

What is somewhat more surprising, however, is the inspiration behind the designs: namely the lyrics of our national anthem, Amhran na bhFiann.

In fact, the collection itself has been entitled Vanguard. Personally chosen by Paul, it is a word that "aims to capture the spirit of the vanguard warriors, the risk takers, who led military movements from the front". 

"This is not so much a clothing collection as a clothing movement," Mr Galvin states via a just-issued press release. "It represents new thoughts, new language, and hopefully a new direction for menswear in Ireland."

The Amhran na bhFiann lyrics put to good use too, with "sinne fianna fáil," and "faoi mhóid bheith saor" being singled out for inclusion: the English language versions of the lines – "warriors are we," and "sworn to be free" – have been printed on t-shirts and sweatshirts.

And while the collaboration is sure to be a big hit, one woman who is not always impressed by Paul's style is his own Kerry mammy.

Close to a year ago when he appeared opposite Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show, he wore a Public School oversized white shirt – a choice of attire he later admitted had failed to impress Mrs Galvin.

Indeed, on his website he revealed that she had even threatened to hide his purchase.

Paul is now happily planning his wedding to radio presenter Louise Duffy; he popped the question in New York in the spring and they've pencilled in a date for "early next year".

Paul Galvin's 21-piece debut menswear collection in collaboration with Dunnes Stores is available to buy online at dunnesstores.com and in selected Dunnes Stores.

 

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