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SoulSisterz brave move to London pays off tonight

KATIE Taylor won't be the only Irishwoman taking centre stage at the opening ceremony tonight.

A hip hop dance duo from Dublin are on cloud nine after being chosen to fly the flag for Ireland as part of the dance extravaganza.

SoulSisterz Maureen Francis (20) from Chapelizod, and Shannen Devlin (20) from Clondalkin moved to London a year and a half ago in the hope of hitting the big-time.

A performance on Got To Dance earned them praise from Davina McCall and boosted their profile. The girls have shared a stage with acts such as JLS and Westlife.

They made it to the finals of Britain's Got Talent in March, but had to drop out when they were accepted to perform at the Olympics.

Maureen's sister Charlotte told the Herald: "The girls' parents are very proud. Their mams and dads went over for the rehearsal. I was ripping because Dad robbed my ticket, but he really wanted to her so I was like go on then, maybe I'll see them next time.

"They are 100pc behind them, although it was very hard for them seeing their little girls going off, but they support them now."

The girls met at Charlotte's dance group Fresh n Funky in Ballyfermot.

When the girls went to London, Charlotte worried about how they would cope.

Although they are in a another country, Charlotte is still their mentor.

"I know them the most. I know their strengths and weaknesses. And I know how to develop them as dancers. They still always ask me for advice because they trust me."

But it hasn't been all plain sailing.

"Just last month they had to bunk in with friends in London because they couldn't afford a place to stay. They know they have to earn their money first."

The girls were both All Ireland Hip Hop Champions for a few years and represented Ireland at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships three times in their teens.

Charlotte said the pair really deserve their success.

"I couldn't think of two better girls for the job, because it didn't come easy to them.

"It wasn't just their natural talent. They got where they are through hard work.

"They've sacrificed a lot for dance. But they don't let it go to their heads and that's what I love about them: they just take it on the chin."

Maureen and Shannen's original dance crew, Fierce, will get together in Ballyfermot to watch their performance at the opening ceremony this evening.

hnews@herald.ie