Friday 9 December 2016

The end for golden couple Niall Breslin and Roz Purcell

Published 05/06/2016 | 02:30

Niall Breslin and Rozanna Purcell
Niall Breslin and Rozanna Purcell
Niall Breslin (Bressie) who completed the Dublin's first Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Phoenix Park today, with 2,500 athletes taking part with girlfriend Roz Purcell after the race
Roz Purcell and her puppy Wilko photographed at Loft53 for Pedigree. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan
Roz Purcell in London. Picture: Instagram
Roz Purcell and Bressie, pictured with Brent Pope, at a photocall in 2012
Model Roz Purcell and boyfriend Bressie on New Year's Eve. Picture: Roz Purcell/Instagram

There was something about Rozanna Purcell and Niall Breslin that made them so likeable.

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There was no funny celebrity moniker where they joined their first names together to create a cheesy unified brand, no red carpet shots or glossy magazine spreads 'at home' with the couple, and absolutely no cooperation with paparazzi and tabloids to sell 'flier' stories about their life together in return for column inches and publicity.

On the rare occasions they did speak about it, you could tell their relationship was real.

They spoke about their anxieties, the social pressures, their vulnerabilities and getting to know one another, peeling back one layer at a time.

Model Roz Purcell and boyfriend Bressie on New Year's Eve. Picture: Roz Purcell/Instagram
Model Roz Purcell and boyfriend Bressie on New Year's Eve. Picture: Roz Purcell/Instagram

In a world awash with sickly picture-perfect moments, it was a breath of fresh air.

When they first met back in 2013, Niall Breslin was at the height of his music career and Ireland's most eligible bachelor. He was regularly inundated with Valentine's Day cards and offers of sexual favours on Twitter and was mobbed when he played his DJ sets.

Despite his showbusiness career, however, the Mullingar man stuck to his roots and fakeness and superficiality were said to have repelled him.

When he did meet women they would say to him: "'I can handle the fact that you have to work, I'll be fine.' But then it gets to the point where they can't handle it and they aren't fine about it," he said.

Niall Breslin (Bressie) who completed the Dublin's first Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Phoenix Park today, with 2,500 athletes taking part with girlfriend Roz Purcell after the race
Niall Breslin (Bressie) who completed the Dublin's first Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Phoenix Park today, with 2,500 athletes taking part with girlfriend Roz Purcell after the race

Tipperary born Roz, kind, quirky and easy going, offered the perfect antidote to that. She was also in the entertainment business, and got the lifestyle and its pressures. Her independent nature - her parents raised her to travel the world and fulfil her own dreams - appealed even more to him.

That and their mutual love of sport and fitness made it appear a match made in heaven.

They kept their dates quiet for the first six months, often meeting behind closed doors, but slowly word of the union began to trickle out.

It all came to a head when the pair attended the wedding of Breslin's friend in Co Offaly and a photographer hid in the trees in order to get exclusive shots.

Roz Purcell and Bressie, pictured with Brent Pope, at a photocall in 2012
Roz Purcell and Bressie, pictured with Brent Pope, at a photocall in 2012

At the time Bressie said: "That's not right, it's bringing my friends into it, who haven't signed up to it. I said 'right, if you want to do that, f**k off over to London and do it there'."

It particularly grated on the couple because it was putting pressure on something that they "didn't really know what it was yet", as Breslin explained at the time.

Both were adamant that they wanted to protect it from the public glare. It was something special to them - away from the world - and not some fodder to sell newspapers and, as Roz explained, it became "a very easy relationship".

The sports mad pair were sometimes pictured at outdoor fitness events together but when it came to the glitzy world of Roz's modelling career, they drew the line. The pretty 25 year old often brought her sister Rachel on her arm instead. As Roz explained: "I don't really like going to things [as] couples, and we don't like pictures together at big public events."

Roz Purcell and her puppy Wilko photographed at Loft53 for Pedigree. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan
Roz Purcell and her puppy Wilko photographed at Loft53 for Pedigree. Picture: Marc O'Sullivan

They did an impressive job at keeping their relationship private, but slowly people wanted to know a little more.

Did Roz want marriage and kids? She baulked as she had to remind the interviewers she was only 25. She still provided thoughtful answers. She didn't have a time line. She didn't want to let that define her. She was unsure if marriage was a huge necessity.

When they did speak about their relationship in separate interviews, the public lapped it up because they were real.

Roz Purcell in London. Picture: Instagram
Roz Purcell in London. Picture: Instagram

They hid secrets about their personalities from one another, for fear it would drive their other half away; they were honest about their insecurities and they spoke with sincerity about how they slowly had to let their guards down if they were going to make it work.

Roz explained how she set out in the relationship lying about her whereabouts. She would tell Niall she had an early morning or late evening job, when in reality she was at the gym. One day she became extremely upset about missing a session and Niall was there to put his arm around her and reassure that it was just another form of anxiety.

He had his own struggles. He has bravely spoken about his own mental health issues but was privately concerned they might be a deal breaker. It wasn't until Roz's workout confession and when she discovered that he was taking sleeping tablets that he opened up too. There was comfort in knowing, as Roz joked, that they were "both as odd as each other".

In the end, however, their honest and open approach wasn't enough to keep things together.

Both are said to be very cut up after deciding to part ways with no cheating rumours, no public rows, just a respectful public announcement.

It's a reminder that even Ireland's most perfect looking couple are every bit as human as the rest of us.

Sunday Independent

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