“I think with the last few years we’ve been kind of closed off to the world, it’s good for us now to try new things and develop our comfort zones.”
Corkonian Anna married Dubliner Kevin Sexton in the summer of 2019 and the couple spent a ‘mini-moon’ shortly afterwards touring parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.
After their wedding in Castlehyde, Co Cork, they moved into their new house in Sallins, Co Kildare, and had planned a luxury honeymoon abroad but those plans were thrown into disarray with the arrival of Covid.
But earlier this month Anna and Kevin finally jetted out of the country, enjoying a blissful four-day break in Iceland.
“It was lovely,” beams Anna (35). “It was our first time out of Ireland in three and a half years.
"It was lovely to just get the chance to go away for a few days. It’s a very different culture, a very different experience. Snowmobiling on a glacier was a great experience.
“I think with the last few years we’ve been kind of closed off to the world, it’s good for us now to try new things and develop our comfort zones. I say yes to more opportunities, that’s what’s good about it — long may that continue.”
Kevin had been working in administration in Croke Park at the time of their wedding and Anna said going to Iceland was a huge thrill for him given his new career.
“It was really cool, a really different experience and the volcanic activity is manic,” she explains. “My husband is a geography teacher, so he was absolutely enthralled by everything that was happening there.”
Anna, who is coaching two families in the final of Ireland’s Fittest Family tonight, is also thrilled for her fellow mentor Davy Fitzgerald after the arrival of the GAA legend’s new baby, which he first announced in the Sunday World.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Daithi Óg,” she gushes. “I’m thrilled for Davy and Sharon to have good news like that because in the last few years we have a lot of difficult times and there’s been a lot of hardships for people.
“When your friend has a baby it’s lovely and himself and Sharon, they are head over heels in love, so it’s lovely.
“He has his hands full now and I’m sure in the next few months if I’m in Waterford I’ll get to see him. He’ll show him off to the world when he’s good and ready.”
Anna reveals viewers will be taken aback tonight at the ferocious weather conditions the four families faced in the final.
“The only word to describe it is apocalyptic,” she exclaims. “I think we have never had worse weather in Ireland’s Fittest Family in its 10 seasons. The quarter finals had really bad weather, but that pales in comparison to the final. If it was a match it would have been called off.”
Anna, who has won four All-Ireland camogie titles with Cork, has won a record three titles on Ireland’s Fittest Family and has two entries in tonight’s final, the Gallaghers from Donegal and the Fitzsimons from Wicklow.
“I had two families in the final last year as well, so it’s almost like a bit of déjà vu,” smiles Anna, who won last year’s show too. “But Davy is in the final this year and he wasn’t last year, so he’s like a dog with a bone now this year. He was really focused all this year.
“But it’s always great to have two families in the final. The good omen was that any time I ended up with two families in the final I ended up winning the Ireland’s Fittest Family series.”
Anna explains that the course is very different.
“There is a new location in Meath,” she reveals. “They changed the ramp as well which makes it tougher, it meant the eliminators were the closest and most exciting for the audience than they’ve ever been. Even if for the coaches they were much more stressful.
“This year’s final has brand new events in it as well. The Wall of Pain is one that I think people are going to love watching, because it’s almost like a split race.”
Also in the final are the Nugents from Louth, coached by Davy, and the Finnegans from Cork, who have Donncha O’Callaghan as their mentor.
“It’s very interesting because sometimes when you’re a strong family you might not be the fastest, or if you’re the fastest family you mightn’t be the strongest, so it kind of tested two completely different skill tests when it comes to fitness,” she says.
“Again, as coaches we only found out it the morning of the final so we didn’t have much time to have a think about the kind of tactics that we did use. It was a bit chaotic, but it was good.”
Her heart goes out to Nina Carberry, who did not make it to the final in her first year as coach.
“Nina is a champion as a jockey. I know she has her sights at being a champion this year too and I think she learned some hard lessons this year, which I have no doubt she will use to her advantage next year,” says Anna.
“It’s very hard coming in on your first year. You don’t really know what to expect. She competed of course in Ireland’s Fittest Family in the celebrity special, but she did have more of an insight into the course as compared to some other new coaches that joined.
Ireland’s Fittest Family is on RTÉ One tonight at 6.30pm.