If love was a science, the matchmakers behind First Dates Ireland would have a much easier time of things.

For the past seven years, they have worked tirelessly to set up over 600 blind daters, in the hopes of finding the people of Ireland their one true loves... all while entertaining viewers in the process.

And although they have application forms and videos and photos and phone calls and social media at their disposal, there doesn't appear to be any guarantees when it comes to finding that x factor.

There's no possible way to know if chemistry will zing between two people until they find themselves in a room together. Which is why, of course, it makes for such good television.

Part of the problem, from the match makers point of view, is that people don't often know what they want. They may describe their perfect match as being just like them only to realise later that opposites attract. The perfect person 'on paper' may not hold up in real life, and the type of person who always gives them butterflies may well be a walking red flag.

So, what's a matchmaker to do?

We caught up with Robert Lanigan, a producer on First Dates Ireland, to find out how he pairs his daters, his top tips for those applying to the show, and why we need more men in the restaurant.

How did you become a matchmaker on First Dates Ireland?
Well, I've been on the show since series one so I've been doing it for seven years now. My background is that of a researcher and producer in television which is all about getting to know people and being inquisitive and wanting to know about people - that's at the heart of matchmaking.

It's about digging in and asking questions and listening when people were chatting and finding out loads about them. Ultimately, that's the job.

How does it feel to make a match?
I'm part of a team of matchmakers so we do have discussions and arguments about who will like each other, but eventually we match them for certain reasons and then, when the date is going ahead, we have no idea - there are certain bits that we can't control!

When they do connect and they are on the date, it's so exciting. We want people to match, we want them to have a good date and enjoy themselves. It is really nice.

Yes, we're making a television show but at the heart of it is quite a genuine and nice process.

What's the process of matching people?
It's not an exact science. It's never as simple as this person likes this and that person likes that. It's also about their life experience, not just about what hobbies they like. Certain people match even when they're different, where as other people like similarities and like they same kind of life experience.

We find out so much about people. When viewers watch the show and they see the daters talking about something of great meaning to them, they think 'that's not something you should say on a first date!' but our first dates are different.

It's a totally blind date. I don't think nowadays you can have a blind date anymore with social media where as in our situation, it's a proper blind date.

Plus, we know so much about them and they know there are reasons why we matched them so they have to explore that, and they end up telling each other more than they usually would on a first date.

What does the application process look like?
There's an application form that they fill out - some do so in great detail and some in average detail. Then we do a phone call and spend a bit of time chatting to the person and getting to know them. The next stage then is to invite them to the pre-date interview which is the first time we get to meet them in person.

Sometimes you have an idea of who they are but it's not until you meet a person that you go 'oh, this is who you are', and sometimes we have a match in mind for them but when you meet them you realise it's not going to work and you have to go back to the drawing board.

It can come down to the way people carry themselves or the vibe they give off, it's not really until you meet them in person that you see it.

What makes an application stand out?
I will give you a little secret that is worth daters knowing. There's an 'about you' section in the application and it's where you write a little paragraph about yourself, and it's people who spend a bit of time on that and give us a flavour of them that's a bit different or interesting that stand out.

You have to catch our attention because the thing about this show is that we have 4,500 - 5,000 people applying every year. We'd love to talk to everyone but we have to be a bit selective, so it's about spending a bit of a time in the 'about you' section.

We do keep people in mind, from past seasons or past interviews, but I would also say to send in a new application so that we know you're still single and still interested.

There's great diversity on the show, how do you find working with different demographics?
What's so great about the show is that anyone who puts themselves forward is really open. For me, it's great to chat to people and see where they're at in their lives. The older daters have such experience with life and it's great to learn from them, but then the younger daters have a joy and a passion for wanting to get out there.

Even when we started the show in 2015, we were talking to people about online dating. People's attitudes has grown and changed so much in the last couple of years. Every age group has a different approach to dating and different experiences.

What's so great about the diversity is finding out about so many different people's lives. You learn from all of them. It's a snapshot of Ireland.

What have you learned over the years?
Trust your gut. That's kind of what we've all learned, to go with instinct. If you over think it... we're trying to make love happen, and there's no science to it so sometimes people get too detailed about things, but sometimes you just have to trust that they will get on and that they have the same vibe and the same personality.

We have a sense of who these people are, and I know people sometimes comment on the show being 'First Mates', but it's because we do such a great job of matching people in their personalities and interests that people find others that they do get on really well with, even if the spark wasn't there.

We do get it right, it's just that we can never know about that chemistry thing that goes on.

Who do you need more of in the restaurant?
Not enough men apply! It's always been the case, we always have to give another shout out for men.

Watch First Dates Ireland on Thursdays at 9:30pm on RTÉ 2.