It’s amazing how the sight of a well known face, and pretty one at that, can suddenly light up a community.
After weeks of waiting and much speculation, locals from the quiet south Longford village of Newtowncashel are this week still digesting news of decorated model Rozanna Purcell’s official introduction as the club’s new celebrity bainisteoir.
Arriving in a silver coloured saloon, the Miss Universe Ireland 2010 winner was given a deafening welcome by hundreds of spectators outside the entrance to the club’s Pairc Ciaran grounds last Sunday afternoon.
It was a gesture which certainly didn’t appear lost on the 21-year-old as she addressed onlookers soon after.
“I’m Roz, I’m your new bainisteoir,” she declared, whilst sporting an aptly coloured red cowboy hat. “I am absolutely delighted to be here, it’s a gorgeous town. I know you are a great community and have a great community spirit in that you have won the Tidy Towns multiple times in a row. I am going to do whatever I can for the team.”
Not even her reference to Newtowncashel being a ‘town’ seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of her newly adopted team.
Captain Gary Kenny said many panel members were taken by the model’s down to earth and uncomplicated demeanour, and it was no surprise when Ms Purcell entered the changing rooms to a tumultuous roar.
“We were inside for an hour or so all togged out with the windows blackened out so by the time she came in it was pretty hot and steamy in there,” he joked.
“With the screaming from people outside, we thought it was someone like Bressie. All the lads were delighted though, especially because she was very genuine and enthusiastic about it all.”
If those inside were suitably impressed, the overriding feeling outside was equally upbeat. Club president Paddy Donlon said he could hardly remember a more pleasing sight in his near 55 year association with the club.
“I am looking forward to it alright and hopefully we can go all the way. I think she will be very good and will get the best out of the players,” he confidently asserted.
Standing close by was 2011 Longford Person of the Year and club stalwart John Farrell. Gazing across at the club’s new celebrity bainisteoir as she oversaw her first training session, Mr Farrell said the furore had certainly rubbed off on the club’s playing personnel.
“I noticed lately that there are many more turning out for training than there was,” he laughed. “She is a lovely looking girl the little that I saw of her.”
On a more serious footing, the event clearly meant a lot to some of the club’s more senior officers. Anxious to get across it’s all-round community focus, chairman Mick Casey paid testiment to local sponsors as well as those who helped ensure the occasion went off unhindered.
“This is all about creating a spirit in the parish which it has done and it has enlivened football. It has been a great day and a great couple of weeks. The amount of people both in and outside the parish who have put their hand in their pocket and to all of those who have helped get the grounds, clubhouse, and all the food ready, it has been fantastic,” he said.
It’s an outcome which Mr Casey and others hope will serve them well ahead of the side’s clash with Cork outfit, Ballinora on September 2.
Meanwhile, the club have issued a message of thanks to the following for their support in recent weeks: Peter Hanley Motors, Jimmy Leavy’s Pub Foigha, Joe Fallon’s, Newtowncashel, L&K, Micheal Casey (Australia), M Casey & Sons, Dave Sheridan from Matt Reilly Cakes, Alan Orohue, Ventura Promotions Television, Frank Greally, Lucozade Sport, M&S Plant Spares, Adie Farrell, Campus Oil, Jones Engineering, XLnt Signs, Bernard Keane, Supervalu, Lanebsoro and P Connolly Cars Ballymahon.