Thursday 23 May 2019

Heart-throb Bressie on Roz, Ironman and concerns for his TV teens

Voice mentor Niall Breslin is highlighting the plight of disadvantaged youths, he tells Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

For years, Niall Breslin was portrayed as the archetypal pretty boy. Lovely to look at on the Voice of Ireland, with an impressive singing voice, adept at writing catchy pop tunes and a former Leinster player to boot. What more could you ask for in an Irish heart-throb?

You can tell it was an image that the 33-year-old hated- and has worked hard to dispel. He hasn’t done a bad job either. He showed his deeper side in recent years by talking about his battle with a crippling anxiety disorder. He’s an ambassador for Cycle Against Suicide and also raises funds for LARCC, a cancer support service where his mother Mandy is a director.

As if all that weren’t worthy enough, he’s also tackling a new RTE documentary to help support disadvantaged people in Limerick.

“It’s a documentary that I’m working on with Alan Gillespie from ShinAwil, working through the youth services to help these young people put a band together,” he said.

“It’s just a very interesting place to work, Limerick. I’ve always had a huge attraction to it. When we were putting the call out to where we were going to do this, I wanted to go there first.

“It’s very different for me, this show, it’s very hard.

“It’s not like The Voice where there is a set formula.

“You’re coming up with different ideas everyday and you’re dealing with people whose trust you have to earn.

“Limerick’s a funny one, it’s got this incredible soul and personality that’s bred out of the place, and I think a lot of the teenagers communicate that now through music. “

Niall, aka Bressie, is looking particularly trim – and no wonder, given his gruelling training regime for the IronMan challenge next month .

Bressie on training for Ironman and never training with Roz (Generated thumbnail).png

Niall and his girlfriend Rozanna Purcell

“It’s good, I’m really enjoying it, it’s a real challenge,” he said.

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it, but it’s tough. It’s early starts, sore muscles and the weekend, when most of your training is done.

“Then I’ve got The Voice. You have to get up at 5am, get your training done and get to rehearsals, but when you turn up and you’re fresh and buzzing and ready to go. It’s a great thing to do.”

Helping to keep him motivated no doubt is his long-term girlfriend and top model Rozanna Purcell, who’s also training for the challenge.

But there’s no chance of them training together, he says.

“No- she’s a hard girl to train with!” he said.

“She’s incredibly-focused. It’s one of those things where you go out for a three-hour bike ride and you don’t get a word out of her. So I’m like, ‘Naw, I’ll chat to the cows in the field!’.

“When I’m on the bike I love the chats. She’s like, ‘Don’t talk to me’, it’s tough.”

He also said it’s hard when a couple are both in rigorous training.

“When someone’s doing an Ironman and you come home after a session and whoever’s there might be able to go, ‘I’ve dinner made’ and you just go, ‘F**k off, I’m going to bed’. It’s definitely something I’d rethink,” he said.

“It’s a lot of juggling and it’s a commitment. It’s a sacrifice and you’ve got to make it and I’ve done it plenty of times in my life. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it.”

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

Bressie along with model Roz Purcell, and rugby pundit Brent Pope

Having once been a professional rugby player no doubt helps when it comes to keeping disciplined with his training. Yet Bressie freely admits he knew from an early age that he just didn’t have the commitment to keep going in the sport, leaving hwen he was 24.

And he says that Brian O’Driscoll is one of his ultimate idols.

“I trained with him and I remembered watching him train,” he said.

“No one realises the work he puts in to being at that level. I used to watch him in the arse-end of November, snowing, freezing and it was all about getting in the show and getting home. And he was out, whatever issue he had in the game the week before, he was practising.

“He would be out there for two hours after training. This stuff isn’t handed to you. He had an incredible natural talent and he worked at it every single day and that’s how he became who he is.

“It was an inspiring thing for me to watch, not just him but the other Leinster players and watch how they focus.

“That’s what made me decide that rugby wasn’t for me.

“I wasn’t willing to work that hard. It wasn’t something I was passionate about as they were.”

All that training has meant he’s had to ‘give up going on sessions; as he tries to stay away from drink.

“I used to love going on matches and, as lads do, go out for a night or two and come home and have the fear for three days and start seeing things. Those days are gone, but I certainly haven’t given up alcohol completely.”

He’s also looking forward to catching up with his fellow Mullingar man and good pal Niall Horan at the One Direction concert in Croke Park this summer.

“We’re going on the second night. But hopefully they’re not going to ban the Croke Park gigs.

“Everyone’s going on about the Garth Brooks gigs. Feck Garth Brooks – it’s all about One Direction.

“Could you imagine how mad the fans would go if they didn’t get permission for them? There’d be no Croke Park left for the All-Ireland Final!”

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