Brilliant Laois family through to the final of RTE's Ireland's Fittest Family

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Athletic Laois family do the county proud in Ireland's Fittest Family heats

The McDonalds from Ballyroan, Laois

The brilliant McDonald family from Laois has made it all the way to the final of RTE's popular TV series Ireland's Fittest Family. 

The McDonalds put in another hugely impressive performance in the semi-final to get themselves into the final which will take place in Croke Park.

The Ballyroan family will be in with a chance of winning the grand prize of €15,000 and the title of Ireland's Fittest Family 2018 in the final. Fifteen families had already been eliminated and two families had already secured a place in the final before Sunday night's semi-final show. 

The McDonald family is Davy Fitzgerald's last family standing in the show. 

"The reason I picked ye, is I know there's steel there, that's why I went for ye," he told the McDonald's in a pep talk before the swamp trek and mud run semi-final events. He said the two daughters Breda and Kate are 'warriors' and not to be underestimated.

The McDonalds are a seriously sporty family have the medals to prove it, having won several for cross-country and road-racing. This has stood to them throughout the series.

Father Martin, 62, who works as a farmer, has represented Ireland many times in sport, came 2nd in the World Mountain Running Championships O60s twice, as well as several All Ireland Medals at track, cross-country, and road. He and his son Cian completed the tough swamp run in the semi-final with great determination and strength. They flew through deep bog waters in an adrenaline-fuelled test of their fitness finishing ahead of all the other families with an energy-draining run and swim. 

Martin’s daughter Breda, 25 is a secondary school teacher, while her sister Kate, 23 studied psychology. Both also represented Ireland at Mountain Running. They are the only family left in the competition with two women on the team. 

Their brother Cian, 17 is a fifth-year secondary school student and also got the sports bug from his father, having represented Ireland several times at mountain running. He also runs cross-country, track, road and mountain running.

The whole family rose to the challenge with high energy and encouragement from Davy Fitzgerald to get through the time trial challenge which saw them climb, cross water on monkey bars, cross balance beams, a tough trek through deep bog water and a sprint at the end to come second and out on top of the overall leaderboard. 

"Absolute elation, to get through this far is fantastic," Martin said. 

All are members of the Ballyroan Abbeyleix & District Athletics Club.

Coach Davy Fitzgerald chose the McDonald family and has been mentoring them since the show began in October.

Watch the entertaining semi-final show back here.