A ‘Fantasy’ world as two school pals to take lead roles on same California stage

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Former St Columba’s College school friends Jason Quigley and Rachael O’Meara-Curran will headline shows at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Indio, California over the next two weeks.

From Chris McNulty in California

Next Thursday, unbeaten middleweight boxer Quigley takes on Freddy Hernandez in the first defence of his NABF middleweight belt.

The following Friday night, dancer O’Meara-Curran takes to the stage of the Special Events Centre at Fantasy Springs as part of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games show. 

“You can’t write this stuff,” Quigley says. 

“It’s a very proud moment for the town and the county.

“I went to school with Rachael. For such a small country, small county and small town, to have two people who went to school together at main events in Fantasy Springs is amazing.”

Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino is located in the heart of the Colorado Desert, 130 miles from Los Angeles and 250 miles from Las Vegas. 

Jason Quigley in fight action

Owned by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, it underwent a $200million revamp in 2004. Temperatures will soar beyond 30 degrees over the next couple of weeks when the old school friends do their thing.

O’Meara-Curran has been dancing since joining the Terri Lafferty School of Irish Dancing in Ballybofey at the age of three. 

“Terri was more like a second mother to me growing up than just my dance teacher so that has subsequently made a major impact on my dancing career also,” she says.

This year she has been to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, China and is currently touring the US and Canada.

She used to dance alongside Quigley’s girlfriend, April McManus, She auditioned for this show in 2004 and danced the lead role for the troupe in their residency in the Playhouse Theatre in London’s Westend Theatre. 

“As with most things in life, with continued hard work, determination and perseverance anything is possible,” she says.

Rachael O’Meara-Curran on stage

“We start our days early, finish late and often have long travel days before a show but I still feel like the luckiest person to be able to call this my job.”

Quigley has been to Fantasy Springs five times in the past and it was there that he won the NABF belt in March 2017, beating Glen Tapia. 

He says: “The first time I saw it, I was like: ‘Wow, this is amazing’. It’s in the middle of the desert, but it’s a lovely place. I really like Fantasy Springs. It’s starting to become like a home venue.”

Like Quigley, O’Meara-Curran has learned the values of hard work and never giving up.

She says: “It may seem odd but what most people don’t realise is the amount of failures that happen behind the scenes to get to this point or how many times you have felt like giving up along the way.”

Quigley himself did a spot of Irish dancing. His aunt, Ursula Quigley-Moore danced in Riverdance and runs the Quigley-Moore School of Irish Dance. 

Quigley says: “We’ll see how the fight goes- If the footwork is nifty and Flatley thinks I could do it, I could join Rachael in a lead role!”

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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