‘I’m sure she is up there breaking her heart laughing’

By Aimee Walsh

A SHAMROCK Rovers Groundskeeper appeared on RTÉ’s First Dates Ireland last week, describing it as a “great experience” and an “adventure”.

Viewers tuned in last Thursday February 18, to see John Cregan, 64, from Jobstown appear on RTÉ’s popular ‘First Dates Ireland’, which saw him paired with Gabrielle from Dublin.

John Cregan First Dates 1

Shamrock Rovers groundsman John Cregan and Gabrielle

John said he appeared on the show after his daughter-in-law put an application in for him.

“My daughter- in-law said to me, ‘I’m going to get you on that programme’, and I laughed. It was Christmas and I probably had a few jars and I said you go ahead. I got the phone call in June and I said, why pick me?

“I said to myself, ‘how am I going to go on this’ but I got myself into that frame of mind. I was a little bit shy in the beginning and I was going to pull out. I thought, it’s a night out of the house, it’s a meal and you’re going to meet someone.” John told The Echo.

John explained on the show that his wife of 23 years had sadly passed away, and he had found it difficult to meet someone since.

“It’s very hard, you go to the pub on a Saturday night, but you wouldn’t have that many social outlets at my age to get a date. So, it was an adventure, that is the way I looked at it. I have a lot of friends that I can call around to, but when you come home from work you are still faced with the same four walls. It is great to be able to talk and relate to someone, we all like to be loved.

“I have had great times and I was with a lovely person for 23 years and unfortunately she passed away. I’m sure she is up there breaking her heart laughing saying, ‘good god what’s he after doing, a real charmer!’.”

Viewers were delighted when it was revealed at the end of the episode that John and Gabrielle had decided to go for another date.

“I am still in touch - she is a lovely person. I think when you come to a certain age where you have been through a lot of bits and pieces in your life and if you meet someone that has been through similar, you know what it’s like.

“Before the lockdown we would go out for walks around Howth or Malahide Castle and go for a cup of coffee or go have a meal. Now obviously we can’t, it’s hard but we both knew we were up for a relationship when we came on the show.”

John explained the feedback from everyone has been fantastic, especially the Shamrock Rovers players at work.

“The Shamrock Rovers first team were off Thursday and Friday and before the show came out one of the lads happened to see the clip, I went into the dressing room and they were saying ‘oh we have a film star, a superstar here!’

“They were delighted. I got some stick when we came in on Saturday for training. We had two pre- season matches and normally when they are doing a pre match presentation we normally show a video of how we want the lads to play.

"They made a presentation to me and the slagging was 90. I enjoy things like that, and I have a very good relationship with the players, it even went up on the Shamrock Rovers website.”

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