good match RTE First Dates romance put on hold over positive Covid-19 test
Shona (21) and Luke (23) hit it off on the RTE dating show
A potential match made in heaven between two GAA players is being thwarted by Covid-19.
Not only did a couple who hooked up for the first time on First Dates have to overcome the obstacle course of social distancing on their first meeting - but any chance of romance further blossoming was curtailed by one of them picking up Covid-19.
Unlucky Shona McMahon (21) endured a tough time shortly after her initial TV date with Luke Troy (23) last October.
"I got Covid around Christmas time, so we couldn't see each other then," explains Shona, from Skerries, Co Dublin.
"I moved to Galway in January and February for an Irish course. Then I'm only back."
Despite picking up the disease, Shona is looking on the bright side of life.
"I was kind of grand, because I'm young and I had a better chance of fighting it off. But I had really harsh breathing and I felt like someone was sitting on my chest most of the time.
"I've still no smell or anything. I can taste, but I can't smell. And that was ages ago now, three months ago. Even my dinner, when I come in, I can't smell it.
"A lot of people I know got it. A few of my friends got it, too."
The DCU Education and Training student had been in a relationship for four years shortly before appearing on the show, and has also tried her hand at social dating apps.
"One night I was just watching First Dates and then my friends were like 'go on, go on apply', so it went from there," she explains.
"All of a sudden I was at one of the interviews, then they said 'will you come in for the actual date'. It just happened so quickly, that I didn't have a chance to say no."
Pretty Shona admits she does have a type when it comes to romance.
"Definitely sports guys, a jack the lad, one of the lads, one who would be loud in a group," she says, smiling.
Shona herself is quite sporty and plays both camogie and gaelic football for Skerries Harps, where she is a corner back.
"It was well before Christmas before we last got to do training together," she recollects. "We currently have a pre-season plan to do your own running and gym sessions in our house."
Shona's date was with Luke, from Malahide, also from north Co. Dublin.
The electrician plays as a forward for St Sylvester's GAA Club in his coastal hometown.
"Lockdown is quite frustrating," he confesses. "You go through good days and bad days.
"With football, I have kept healthy and I exercise quite a lot. I've seen friends here and there for walks, but it has been a challenge, where a year of your life has been taken away from you where you can't do things like you'd normally do and go to places.
"We're not allowed to play or train together. In the Summer we got back in June for a while, which was great to see the lads two or three times a week. Then it was halted again."
Luke's last proper relationship was five years ago and, although he's been on Tinder, he just felt it didn't work for him. He prefers to meet people in pubs rather than nightclubs as he feels they are more sociable.
"It was just one day during the lockdown when I was sitting at home like everyone else was and I saw an ad for First Dates on either Twitter or Facebook and I just clicked into it," he recalls.
"When I clicked into it I was thinking 'that might be funny'. I said it to my friends and they said 'you may as well'.
"I sent off the form to try and get picked and then I just got through all the stages and they said 'we found a date for you'. Then we recorded it and it was great."
He says he felt an immediate connection to Shona, thanks to their mutual GAA background.
"Shona was great, she was really good fun," he beams. "I really enjoyed talking to her, I really enjoyed having the date with her and I thought we got on great."
He adds: "I was delighted she was a fellow GAA person. We got to talk about football and hurling and stuff like that, it was nice to have that connection. It was kind of a groundbreaker at the very start having to have something that we both liked so much.
"Then as you got more comfortable you can talk about more things so it was nice having that connection at the start"
Shona was equally complimentary about Luke.
"It was nice to meet someone as the dating scene is shocking at the moment," she points out.
"Luke was lovely, really nice."
Shona now wants to get over Covid and get back to a normal life.
"I would get the vaccine, especially because you need it for travelling," she stresses.
"I would recommend anyone going on First Dates. I will never forget a bit of it, it was such good craic."
Luke is also looking forward to life getting back to the way it was before Covid struck.
"Most of my friends are single and we're all dying to go back out at this stage," he stresses.
"I will definitely get the vaccine, but it will probably be a while. My grandparents are in their late 70s and they only got their first jabs a couple weeks ago, so that's how far back we are.
"I'm not expecting anything soon but the sooner we get it the better and get back to normal. I'd love to go on a summer holiday abroad, which we are missing out on."
- First Dates is on RTÃ‰2 tonight, 9.30pm
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