The judges were exacting and the global competition stiff, but after the last note sounded, 16 members of Buffalo's Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dancers won first place in the All Ireland Competition in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.
The local troupe, made up of 14- and 15-year-old girls, returned home Saturday -- tired but proud.
They won in the junior figure dancing competition in the Irish dancing world championships.
Their dance is called the Celtic Hoedown, a combination of traditional Irish flair with some American Western dance moves, including square dance, folk and modern country line dance.
Their accompanying story line highlighted the role of Irish immigrants shaping American customs.
"Our dance is really fun. It's a party," Maggie McPhee, 15, of Snyder, said after arriving at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
The competing teams from Ireland were talented, too, but their themes were not as much fun, which might have made the difference in the competition, Maggie said.
Also returning home Saturday was Madeline Reid, 15, of South Buffalo, who was also among the Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dancers who placed third in the competition two years ago in Belfast.
While the experience helped, only seven of this year's dancers belonged to that troupe. Practicing two to three times a week since August, sometimes all day on Saturdays, explains their near flawless scores, Madeline said.
The troupe won the highest score possible from four of the five judges, and got the second-highest score possible from the other judge.
When Rince Na Tiarna Irish Dancers was proclaimed the champions, "we all screamed pretty loud," Maggie said.