Nicholas, Fionn, Maeve and Cara Maher picked up their ‘Sports Star(s) of the Month’ award for December, sponsored by Tommy Buggy in partnership with LaoisToday.
We couldn’t let them go without sitting down for a chat to find out all about their Ireland’s Fittest Family experience.
The Mahers have always been an active family and tried their hand at all types of sports.
With their parents having always encouraged them to be involved in sports, as they got older they had choose one and focus on it.
For Fionn, it was football, for Maeve and Cara it was athletics and for their Dad, Nicholas, athletics and football are his main interests.
Cara said: “Both Mam and Dad encouraged us to get into every sport. We would have been playing five or six sports and then be rushing to two and three trainings a day.”
With the family’s active lifestyle in mind, it was Cara who entered the family into Ireland’s Fittest Family on the way home from training one day without saying a word.
“I wanted to do it last year but then Fionn has his accident so we couldn’t. I was thinking it might speed up his recovery and have something to focus on,” she explained.
The Maher were chosen from 100 applicants to take on the fitness test with 29 other families and then chosen in the final 15.
Explaining the process, Maeve said: “You to the fitness test and you do anything from push ups to sit ups, an agility test, 800 metres run, there’s loads of different things and then you do an interview to see if you gel well as a family and that sort of thing.”
There were not shy of pushing themselves beyond their limits so sought after a coach who helped them prepare for the show.
“We got a guy called Paul Ward to train us then once a week and that was different. We actually used to prefer going to the Fittest Family training than going to him, it was hard!” Nicholas said.
The Killeshin family found out that they had gotten to the fitness test round in April and started their training straight away.
They took on two to three sessions with Paul to see where they were at and they insisted that it gave them “a bit of a wake up call.”
On top of that training for football and athletics themselves – always on the go!
The competition brought it’s battles too, but they weren’t always during challenges!
Maeve explained: “We’d fight the whole time coming up to the competition over stupid things just because we were spending so much time together and in each others hair!”
Looking back on their Ireland’s Fittest Family journey the Mahers laughed as they talked about how they “took the hard route”.
“We made so many mistakes all the way through and just made it so hard on ourselves.
“Completely unnecessary mistakes. We could have avoided nearly every single eliminator. Just wanted to do well and progress we probably tried a bit too hard at times,” Fionn laughed.
While there were quite a few to chose from, we wanted to know their individual highlights.
For Maeve, Fionn and Nicholas, it was the nail biting semi final where they got the win by just a fraction of time.
“The feeling when you qualify is surreal. The lads were giving out to me for punching the air and everything else but you get caught up in it. It was total excitement,” Nicholas said.
For Cara, the first round of the competition was her highlight as it was another tense race.
It was the sand dunes that proved to be the toughest challenge for this hilarious family – falling backwards, legs burning, it doesn’t sound ideal.
A series of unfortunate events went against the Laois representative in the final such as the weather, Cara’s concussion and Dad, Nicholas’ broken wrist, which he kept very quiet!
As a final reflection, The Mahers were adamant it was an experience they will never forget.
“If we knew that we weren’t goof enough to win it then fair enough but if we had have got a bit of luck in the race in Croke Park we were confident going on from there.
The last two races might have suited us well. That’s the annoying thing,” Fionn said.
“Watching all of the episodes, the craic we had. Everyone would be cheering and having a laugh and you’d laugh at yourself at the things you’d come out with – like did I actually just say that?” Maeve added.
And, any final words from Dad?
“You need a bit of luck along the way. If you’re going to go into this make sure you’re a lottery contender!!”