Greg O'Shea: The mild-mannered rugby player from Limerick who became an overnight sensation on Love Island
The phrase ‘overnight sensation’ tends to reflect years of work, but the exception is in the case of Greg O’Shea.
His meteoric rise to television is equal parts charm, timing and a little bit of luck.
When it was announced he was entering the Love Island villa as a surprise last-minute addition, being paired with Amber, fresh from being scorned by Michael and one of the most genuinely charming people in the series, was down to luck.
His timing was impeccable: producers knew of Amber’s ever-growing popularity with viewers and needed to create circumstances for her to remain in the villa after remaining single when Michael paired with Joanna at Casa Amor and later when her coupling with Ovie as friends restricted their growth as a couple.
New characters are introduced constantly on a show like Love Island which runs the risk of becoming stagnant with too many familiar faces, but few captivate audiences in such a short period of time as he has.
Behind the scenes, it was obvious that producers were trying to replicate Maura Higgins’ surprising success and hoped that another Irish addition might be just what the doctor ordered. And it worked, although likely not in the way they anticipated.
There were no displays of toxic masculinity, no possessiveness over Amber or making her work for their relationship; he possessed a quiet confidence that wasn’t just Amber’s type, but viewers at some as well.
Greg, from Corbally in Limerick, been prepared for some form of fame most of your 24 years: as a teenager, he was a valuable asset in the Munster Rugby academy for two years and played with the U20s for a number of years before segueing into the Rugby Sevens where he has been training to represent Ireland at the Olympics in next year in Tokyo.
The Sevens game was added to the list of Olympic sports for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
O'Shea - who has also won medals in All-Ireland track and field events for Dooneen AC - was a part of the Munster Rugby academy set-up and currently lines out for his club Shannon.
Recognition was going to come to Greg for either his professional or personal pursuits and now he’s found a way to capitalise on both. He represents a small portion of stars on every reality show, the token ‘normal’ person who likely signed up out of simple curiosity.
He and Amber seem genuinely smitten and have more chemistry that the more established couples like Tommy and Molly Mae, whose close-ups are often plagued by Molly’s vacant stares into the abyss or sporadic tears of joy impressively done without producing any actual tears.
As such, he’s developed a cult following on social media despite being on the show for less than two weeks and many see him as the fairytale ending worthy of Amber’s sympathetic narrative throughout the season.
What remains ahead for Greg is yet to be seen. Unlike Maura who has reportedly been inundated with presenting offers in the UK and said on air she’s planning a move to Manchester, he could very well return to business as usual with a new long-distance relationship to work.
After tonight’s final in which one couple will win a £50,000 prize and endless earning potential thanks to their fame earned over the summer, he will be returning to pre-season training ahead of the World Rugby Sevens World Series in Dubai, taking place in November.
This means his window of opportunity is relatively small as training begins at the end of August, less than four weeks after tonight’s final.
Reality tv fame is fleeting as last year’s winner Jack Fincham knows now that he’s returned to his day job as a pen salesman and Dr Alex is now back working in A&E.
But with a career in rugby, he knows the value of a back-up plan and hopes to activate his degree in law from University of Limerick on retirement.
What's next for the mild-mannered young man who proved you don't need to be outrageous to make good television remains to be seen. And that's part of the fun.