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Fitzed family Davy Fitzgerald says online abuse needs to be tackled after his dad was allegedly targeted

"I would like to think that we're speaking for a lot of people out there that are afraid to say anything and then that has affected them"

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Davy Fitzgerald on Ireland's Fittest Family

Davy Fitzgerald on Ireland's Fittest Family

Davy Fitzgerald on Ireland's Fittest Family

GAA legend Davy Fitzgerald has revealed how he and the rest of the Ireland's Fittest Family team leaders are even more 'in it to win it' than it appears on our TV screens.

As the sporting contest returns to RTE, Davy Fitz laughed off suggestions they were bigging up the fighting talk for our entertainment - and added they're even more competitive than we think.

"I can tell you when the competition is on, it is absolutely ruthless," he said of the top-rating show. "And it's not for TV. That's in our character - I'm a bit of a dog when the competition gets on, I'll do what I have to do to win.

"Donncha lets on to be this fella who's friendly with everyone and he's having the craic. When the whistle goes, Donncha O'Callaghan is an absolute lion. He will absolutely go through you. Anna Geary will do anything to win - she's smart and she'll try to figure out stuff. She's a dog.

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Davy Fitzgerald with the Ireland's Fittest Family coaches

Davy Fitzgerald with the Ireland's Fittest Family coaches

Davy Fitzgerald with the Ireland's Fittest Family coaches

"Derval O'Rourke. Trust me. She'd go through ya. None of this is put on when we're competing 110 per cent for your family. And I think if we weren't, you'd see through it. If you look, we've all been involved in sport at a high level and we're all very competitive. This is not for TV. We would go to any lengths to win."

Many viewers may not realise that the All-Ireland-winning player and manager is the brains behind the hit show as its co-creator. He first developed the concept with friend and fellow Clare man James Sexton when they were chatting over coffee.

Nine years later, it's one of RTÉ's biggest shows - this year's final was watched by 575,600 viewers and grabbed a 43 per cent audience share.

"I don't know if you remember a thing before called Superstars (the TV show saw Irish sports stars compete across various disciplines).

"We said, wouldn't it be great if we came up with something like the show but way different and it involved your family. We came up with a rake of different ideas. We said: 'The most important thing in life is your family. Why not have something where you're doing it with your family?'

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Davy Fitzgerald

Davy Fitzgerald

Davy Fitzgerald

"We got a meeting with Bill Malone who was head of entertainment at RTÉ at the time. They said they'd give us 15 minutes. We were still there two hours later. He loved the idea.

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"He actually said straight there and then: 'I love this. Go away and get a production company'. We met three of them. They were all mad to do it, ended up with Animo TV and the rest is history.

"It's been an unbelievable spin. It's great to get away from the hurling and the GAA and being able to do something different and absolutely get fulfilment out of doing it."

The winning formula has already been picked up by several countries including Chile, Germany and Sweden.

"We haven't hit the UK and US where we'd really like to hit yet. It's a no-brainer. You can see how it's gone down in Ireland and the figures that watch it."

Davy turned 50 this year and revealed he's working harder on his fitness - including playing tennis, another legendary game involving a small ball.

"I'd play a lot of doubles or mixed doubles. I love being out on court with three or four people and having a bit of fun.

"Now I'd be competitive as well. I turned 50 this year and you know what I'm saying to myself? Just because I turned 50 that doesn't mean I should sit down on the armchair and do nothing. That's when I've got to get out a bit more and start to do it."

The star recently came out strongly against online bullying after his father, Clare GAA secretary Pat, allegedly received abuse online. A file is currently with the DPP following an investigation.

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Davy Fitzgerald with his father and secretary of the Clare county board Pat Fitzgerald. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Davy Fitzgerald with his father and secretary of the Clare county board Pat Fitzgerald. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Davy Fitzgerald with his father and secretary of the Clare county board Pat Fitzgerald. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

He said he got a lot of reaction to the call-out and is adamant the Government should do more on the issue.

"I can remember getting one call the day after I was on The Late Late Show where we talked about it, and this person indicated that someone very close took their own life because they were getting absolutely hassled.

"And what he more or less said to me is: 'You spoke for all of us last night' and that would be the intention. It isn't just for myself and my dad and it's just I suppose we have a small bit of a platform.

"I would like to think that we're speaking for a lot of people out there that are afraid to say anything and then that has affected them.

"I just don't think it should be tolerated. And I think our Government have to stand up and take issue with it."

Just this week it emerged that Davy had met with Galway GAA's management, who later announced Kilkenny hurling giant Henry Shefflin would manage the team.

He said such meetings are normal in GAA circles and wishes Shefflin well.

"I had a chat or two with them, they decided to go for Henry, it's as simple as that. Certainly I'm not dwelling on it. What's for you will not go by you, isn't that what they say? I only wish him the best."

Davy will put one school or club through its paces in a new competition courtesy of Ireland's Fittest Family show sponsor Londis.

The retailer has launched a competition for a school or club to win a coached training session with the hurling legend. You can find out more information and enter the competition at londis.ie.

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