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Near-miss for Melanie and Morah as Gerry's loves turn up for Joe

IT WAS an uncomfortable reunion that could have come straight from the pages of a dramatic novel.

But Joe Duffy's book launch had a happy ending for all concerned when the two former loves of Gerry Ryan managed, by seconds, to avoid a face-off.

Morah Ryan made a swift exit from the star-studded Just Joe launch at Harry's Bar, after nearly bumping into Melanie Verwoerd.

The Herald can reveal how the former wife of the late 2FM star narrowly avoided an awkward confrontation with the woman he fell in love with after she made a surprise appearance at the bash.

Mum-of-five Morah and her daughter Lottie were among the first to arrive at the jam-packed event in Harry Crosbie's self-titled bar beside the Point.

Looking her usual glamorous self, Morah, in a black ensemble, arrived at 6pm as she pressed the flesh with Gerry's old RTE colleagues for the book launch.

But she made a rapid dash for the door just before 7pm -- the same time Melanie came down the stairs into the basement bar, near The O2.

"It was really awkward," said an onlooker. "Morah was leaving with Lottie but just as she was about to go up the stairs, Melanie was coming down. Morah appeared to hang back behind the stairwell to avoid her as she walked past. Everyone was holding their breath to see what would happen."

The two ladies have had a famously frosty relationship following the tragic passing of the RTE broadcaster on April 30, 2010.

Morah paid tribute to Melanie at Gerry's funeral in Clontarf, but a rift reportedly emerged following the inquest into his sudden passing from a cardiac arrhythmia.

His bereaved family held an anniversary Mass in his memory last April -- but Melanie was not invited.

She later paid her own tribute to the Gerry by having a bench erected in his memory in Herbert Park with a plaque reading how she would 'love you till the end of time'.

Clad in a chic purple dress, last night was one of Melanie's first public appearances since she was let go from her position as executive director of UNICEF Ireland.

She was there with her good pal, Harry Crosbie's wife Rita, as she mingled with some of the biggest names in RTE.

Joe himself was in flying form as he took centre stage in the northside bar which saw most of the station's luminaries out to support him.

He was there with his wife June Meehan and their triplets Sean, Ellen and Ronan as well as his mum Mabel (83).

Although only just released, the book is already receiving much acclaim.

hnews@herald.ie