'We had the winning of it in our hands' McDonald's heartache over Ireland's Fittest Family

Michelle Hogan


Michelle Hogan

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The McDonald family having tea and scones with mentor Davy Fitzgerald

The county held its breath on Sunday evening as the McDonalds from Ballyroan narrowly missed out on winning the final of Ireland’s Fittest Family by a split second.

In an exhilarating final Martin, Cian, Kate and Breda McDonald did the county proud on the national platform.

Back working on the farm on Monday, Martin McDonald spoke to the Leinster Express about their experience.

“It was tough to watch it, it brought back all the heartache again even though we knew the outcome. I personally found it very hard to look at, we had the winning of it in our hands.

“The challenge is hard but I don’t mind it, I think we are used to the hardship with the farming and everything.

“We were the only family that had to do all of the challenges on the day, I don’t know if that changed anything but maybe we were a bit more tired,” he said.

The final was held in the hallowed ground of Croke Park.

The McDonalds completed an extra challenge at the final because they went through an eliminator round that the winning family, the Coney’s from Tyrone, did not have to do.

The McDonalds scaled rope ladders hanging from the roof of Croke and bravely faced the tough eliminator challenge.

They had a brilliant start to the competition as they came first in the 20 family beach run in week one. They had previously set the family record for the longest combined time in the hanging tough challenge and they did brilliantly in this challenge again in the final, suspended 40 metres above the ground in Croke Park. They missed out narrowly, by a split second in the grand final.

Martin said the local support has been fantastic.

“There was hardly standing room in Whelan’s on Sunday. There is great local support, we couldn’t have had more support from the community. The highlight of it was the great exposure you get for it, in athletics, you would probably have to make the Olympics and get a gold medal for the exposure we have got there has been so many calls, texts and tweets.

“We were a close family but I think we are closer since doing this and working as a team, training together six times a week we have each other, we could nearly look at each other and know what the other one was thinking,” he said.