A BUDDING model who has been likened to singer Jessie J has been crowned Miss Limerick Universe 2012.
Brunette beauty Aoife Hickey, took the coveted title at a glittering ceremony at the Stand Hotel.
The 18-year-old said she was “shocked but couldn’t be happier” after she was chosen from a group of 24 beauties to go on to represent Limerick at the Miss Universe Ireland final in Dublin later this year.
“I never expected to win at all,” smiled the budding model who stands at a statuesque 5’10”.
The sports loving teenager who is from Thurles, is hoping to begin her third level studies at the University of Limerick next September.
“I did my Leaving last year. I am on a year out at the moment. I am hoping to go to UL next year to study public administration or business,” she explained.
“I wanted to do modelling for ages but I never got the chance with school but now that I am on a year off I have more time to put into it. I love fashion and I love shopping. I shop too much,” she joked.
The teenage beauty is also a big GAA fan – she plays football with Thurles Sarsfields and has played inter-county with Tipperary for a time as well.
“My dad Danny Hickey played football with Tipp for a while so I am following in his footsteps,” smiled Aoife who was joined at the Strand Hotel by a number of friends including her boyfriend Eoin Fitzpatick from Templemore.
Aoife shared the spotlight on Thursday night with University of Limerick student Lydia Turley from Monaleen who was crowned Miss Spin South West 2012.
The 22-year-old who is a former Miss Limerick World said she was “absolutely thrilled” with her win.
“When I won Miss Limerick before I was so young at the time I had just turned 18 and in my head I was about 15. Now that I have gained a little bit more experience I really want to give it my all this year,” she said.
A former student of Castletroy College, Lydia has just finished her studies at the University of Limerick where she studied Irish and English. She speaks fluent Irish and her dream job would be to present a show on TG4.
Model agent and organiser of the pageant, Celia Holman Lee, said she was “thrilled” for both girls.
“They are absolutely beautiful and they are going to do us proud in Dublin at Miss Universe Ireland in August,” she said.
“They have height, looks and intelligence. They are very approachable girls, they have great personalities which is everything for me,” she added.
The former model who is renowned for her ability to spot girls with model potential and transform them into catwalk queens said both girls are very easy to work with which bodes well for their future careers.
“They are very easy to work with and will be very good to take direction before they leave for Dublin. It’s not necessarily about how you look and your hair, there is a lot more you need with it and hopefully these girls have that and I think they have. I think we might be on to another winner,” she said.
Celia even likened the new Miss Limerick Aoife Hickey to singer Jessie J who is a star judge on UK talent show The Voice.
“I can really see a resemblance. We are going to have a lot of fun styling her and I could really see her with a fringe. She has a very versatile look,” she said.
Both girls were chosen by a judging panel which included former Munster rugby star and Hermitage Green guitarist Barry Murphy, outgoing Miss Limerick Universe, Kellie McGrath; outgoing Miss Spin South West and current Miss Universe Ireland, Aoife Hannon, Miss Limerick World, Deirbhile Lee; former Miss Limerick Becky Costello, model and Mr Limerick, Leo Delaney and Mairead Horgan of Spin South West.
PICTURES: PAGE 16-17