BALLINCOLLIG’S Rebel Acro, a team of 16 gymnasts – ranging in ages from 11 to 18 – came in the top three in the final of Ireland’s Got Talent.
The gymnasts – including Clonakilty’s Aisling Dooley and Grace Lyons – are all members of the Ballincollig Gymnastics Club, which was founded 30 years ago by head coach, Sandra O’Leary.
Following two tough auditions in November, the team succeeded in making it through to the live semi-final at The Helix in Dublin, and then to the live final on Sunday night.
The team was one of six finalists chosen by public vote, plus two wild card entries chosen by the judges, that competed for the top spot on the Virgin Media One TV programme.
Paula Dooley, the mother of Aisling, said the team, which comprises 15 girls and one boy, were ‘happy to end up in the top three and are delighted that everyone can see what they actually do.
‘Normally,’ she said, ‘they work in pairs and trios for competitions, but this was an opportunity for them to perform as a team.’
Sandra O’Leary confirmed it was a huge challenge for them and that the experience was ‘very intense but they loved every minute of it.’
They didn’t, however, spend too much time celebrating. The young gymnasts are already back in training because the qualifying rounds for the Acrobatic and Gymnastic European Championships – which takes place in Israel in October – are just around the corner.
But when they are finished in May, Sandra said the team would be happy to showcase their talents at free community events, especially those for charity, over the summer months.
The team did the county proud. Take one more bow: David, Aisling, Grace, Sophie, Kate, Katie and Kate, Aiesha, Holly, Naoise, Leah, Rebecca, Claudia, Alex, Niamh and Juliette.