Sorcha O'Connor: 'Feisty and flirtatious Maura Higgins divides opinions on Love Island but she saved series'
It's a long way from Co Longford to Majorca, but if it wasn't for the Irish girl at the centre of 'Love Island', the show this year could have turned into a damp squib.
The debut of the sun-filled reality contest was watched by an average audience of 3.3 million people in the UK with 600,000 in Ireland - a 57pc increase on last year.
But as the episodes progressed, viewers felt the format was jaded, the 'love triangles' predictable, and the shots of beautiful people sunbathing by a pool simply...boring.
Enter 28-year-old Maura Higgins from Ballymahon, Co Longford.
The brunette bombshell has been a breath of fresh air to the villa of singletons, shooting from the hip and marking everyone's cards.
Some viewers were put off by her X-rated language, others were thrilled at her full-on flirting and no-nonsense reaction to the other girls heckling her during dates.
ITV2 and Virgin Media's summer reality show has been saved.
Some might charge her with the offence of stealing Center Parcs' thunder when it comes to Longford's tourism potential.
Maura has certainly divided opinion, but few can call her boring. Her mother, Sharon Higgins, was quick to jump to her defence.
"So many people are judging her too quickly. But don't judge her too quickly because she has a heart of gold. She'd do anything for you," she said.
Speaking to the 'Longford Leader', Sharon admitted her "jaw dropped" at some of her daughter's more vulgar remarks but, ultimately, she thinks the online reaction has been funny. She thinks viewers at home haven't met the real Maura just yet.
This was echoed by owner of Bellamianta Tanning, Linda Stinson. She has worked closely with the model, who is a brand ambassador for the fake tan company.
"When I saw her walking in, I jumped up and said, 'Now this show will start'," she told the Irish Independent.
"She is a lovely girl, she is self-assured and she knows what she likes.
"Underneath, she is down to earth and a country girl who would do anything for you."
Since her TV debut on Thursday night, she has made a splash with Tommy Fury - boxer Tyson Fury's little brother - having his head sent in no less than a "560-degree" turn by the Co Longford lass.
She's not the only one flying the flag for Irish girls as Yewande Biala, a 23-year-old scientist from Dublin, has also made an impression. She considers herself as very loyal and would never steal a man who is coupled up with another girl.
The same can't be said for Maura. Fans are mainly applauding her for her feisty and flirtatious spirit and giving the viewers a bit of juicy gossip - because isn't that what 'Love Island' is all about?
- Read More: 'Don't judge her too quickly because she has a heart of gold' - Maura Higgins' mother defends Love Island bombshell