Love Island: It’s a bounty of begorrahs as Salma and Kaila arrive. Who’ll be the new Maura?

TV: The Dubliners are joined by Matthew MacNabb, a shrug-at-destiny sort from Belfast

Love Island 2021: Salma Naran, Matthew MacNabb and Kaila Troy. Photographs: ITV

Love Island 2021: Salma Naran, Matthew MacNabb and Kaila Troy. Photographs: ITV

 

“We love an Irish!”

Yes, we have arrived at that semi-regular moment on Love Island (Virgin Media One, Sunday-Friday) when Irish contestants are cast into ITV’s reality juggernaut and required to sink, swim or work on their tan.

This year it’s a bounty of begorrahs, as three representatives of the old sod have jetted to the very hot sod of Majorca. Feel free to rejoice for the fun that is sure to ensue or to despair for the condition of humanity in the early 21st century.

On an unusually overcast day in the Balearics, Salma, Kaila and Matthew are here for the Casa Amor – Spanish for Shameless Publicity Stunt – segment of Love Island

Team Ireland consists of two Dubliners, Salma Naran and Kaila Troy, and a Belfast man, Matthew MacNabb. On an unusually overcast day in the Balearics, they are here for the Casa Amor – Spanish for Shameless Publicity Stunt – segment of the contest.

This is Love Island’s version of three-dimensional chess or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, as the boy and girl teams are split up and each is encouraged to mingle with a sextet of newcomers. Or, as the boys chant, “It’s time to explore … Casa Amor.”

Love Island literally becomes temptation island during Casa Amor. And Matthew, who has a complicated-sounding marketing job, wins an instant fan club with the ladies. (It is he who is at the receiving end of the “We love an Irish!” outburst.)

Casa Amor, by contrast, initially proves a bit of a cold house for Salma and Kaila, who struggle to create an impression. Kaila, a DJ and influencer, comes across as the more extrovert of the two. Salma, a model and (obviously) an influencer, is more quietly spoken, although she does get hauled into a clumsy three-way clinch – “snog” if we’re speaking fluent Love Island – during a truth-or-dare segment.

The three-way snog is pretty squirm-inducing, with snoggee-in-chief Liam stuck in the middle and trying to pretend he’s having fun. Were he stuck in there any longer, they’d have to send in a rescue team

It’s pretty squirm-inducing, with snoggee-in-chief Liam stuck in the middle and trying to pretend he’s having fun when he really looks as if he’s struggling to clear his nose. Were he stuck in there any longer, they’d have to send in a rescue team.

How will our representatives fare in the challenging days to come? On Love Island it takes a while for contestants to bed in, and the clock is ticking. That said, Irish islanders have created waves in the past, most notably Maura Higgins, in 2019. So there is certainly potential. And Matthew, in particular, comes across as the laid-back, shrug-at-destiny sort whom viewers tend to love. And that matters, as it is audience votes that decide who stays and who gets the heave-ho.

“It’s fair to say ... Irish accents are popular!” the show’s presenter, Laura Whitmore, tweeted afterwards. Her words may eventually prove prophetic – but for now the three Irish newcomers’ Love Island prospects are about as clear cut as that slate sky over the villa.

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