HE has tasted international rugby glory as outhalf in the victorious Lions team. Now Jonny Sexton is about to taste Limerick hospitality when he and his childhood sweetheart, Laura Priestley, marry in Adare this Friday afternoon.
The Lions, still jubilant after their first test win since 1997, are due home from Australia this Wednesday, leaving Jonny Sexton with just hours to catch his breath in time for Friday’s big ceremony in Adare’s Holy Trinity Abbey Church.
While the guest list is being kept top secret, there will be a big local involvement.
Jonny’s uncle former Irish rugby international Willie Sexton from North Circular road, who runs two pubs in Limerick city will be among many of the rugby personalities present.
Another brother Ken Sexton runs a very successful menswear shop in Thomas Street, Limerick, and is also on the guest list.
It is not clear if the injured Paul O’Connell, who is preparing for his own wedding in France later this month, will be present, as his stag party is looming.
There will be a big contingent from Listowel, which will include Billy Keane, columnist with the Irish Independent and son of the great John B Keane.
For Sexton it will be a hectic week. Add in the fact that his 28th birthday falls on Thursday and that his new pre-season training with Racing begins on July 29 and it seems that life is just one mad whirlwind for the only Irish Lion to feature in all three of the 2013 test match series.
And the No 10 made his own bit of rugby history by getting the first try in the decisive third test last Saturday.
Speaking to the media after the decisive win over Australia, Jonny admitted that 2013 has been a “whirlwind”. It included protracted negotiations with the IRFU which came to nothing and were followed by new contract with Racing; his injuries which ended his Six Nations campaign, his farewell from Leinster and the six-week Lions tour crowned by victory.
Now comes his marriage to the young woman with whom he has been partnered for the past 14 years, Laura Priestley. The church ceremony will take place in Adare this Friday afternoon, followed by a wedding reception in Adare Manor, where many of the great and good from Ireland’s rugby world are expected to attend as guests. The couple will take a week-long honeymoon is Las Vegas but must then make the move to Paris.
“That’ll do for now,”Jonny said of the honeymoon when speaking to reporters at the weekend. “We’ll do a proper one next year hopefully.”
Significantly perhaps, Jonny Sexton has called on the rugby authorities from around the world to get together to work out a “new integrated global season” for players. He asked them to “take a positive attitude and see what can be done”.
Meanwhile, as he begins to savour just how good the past few months have been, he said: “But it’s been a whirlwind these last few weeks and obviously another big chapter coming up with the switch. It’s been crazy. I haven’t even had a moment to digest actually finishing up with Leinster and moving to a new club. I suppose that will settle in now over the next few weeks.”