FIGHTING UNFIT | 

GAA legend Davy Fitzgerald is ‘feeling 50 and overweight’ ahead of boot-camp show

Fitzgerald (51) has again set his sights on challenging a group of young people to turn over a new leaf in life

Davy Fitzgerald

Davy's Toughest Team

Allison BrayIndependent.ie

Abseiling rugged sea cliffs in Co Clare and scaling the heights of the lunar-like Mullaghmore hill in The Burren are among the challenges facing seven young men in the latest series of Davy’s Toughest Team.

However their leader, hurling legend Davy Fitzgerald, admits he is also feeling the pressure.

“I’m feeling 50. I’m overweight, I’m absolutely bricking it,” he said.

The second series of RTÉ’s wilderness boot-camp reality show which kicks off next week, sees Waterford GAA manager Davy Fitzgerald put seven young men aged 18-24 to the test where they not only face gruelling physical tasks but also challenges to their mental and emotional states and coping, teamwork and communication skills.

Fitzgerald (51), who has spent three decades mentoring young men and women in his role as a GAA hurling coach and manager, has again set his sights on challenging the team to turn over a new leaf in life as they embark on a gruelling three-month training programme that will ultimately see them attempt to reach the summit of a volcano in Iceland.

And given the difficult circumstances of the participants, their work is cut out from them.

The young men have all faced adversity in their lives – including battling drug and alcohol addiction, suicide, bereavement, homelessness, growing up in foster care as well as struggling with social isolation, poverty and mental health issues.

But ever the optimist, Fitzgerald said he believes he can help turn their lives around.

“The motivation for me is these guys who are a small bit lost, guys who just need a hand,” he says in the series opener to be broadcast on Wednesday night.

“If we could get them to do this, it would be massive.

“Hopefully when they come back from this, they’ll see that no track is too difficult and no track is too high.”

He wastes no time putting them through their paces as they arrive for their inaugural three-day stay at Clare’s Rock hostel in the heart of The Burren where their first task is to abseil down a terrifying sea cliff.

“They will feel absolutely fantastic if they can do it,” he says before the group take up the challenge.

Jamie, a 23-year-old young father from Dublin who was brought up in a foster home and spent some time living on the street, initially let his fear overtake him until he overcame it and joined the triumphant group at the base.

Davy's Toughest Team

“I love seeing guys doing things they don’t think they can do,” Fitzgerald beams after the mission is accomplished.

However, he concedes that the task ahead of them is monumental.

“Some of these guys hardly stir outside their door. Some of these guys don’t like communicating,” he said.

“This is going to be a lot for them to take on.”

The next task sees the young men lugging backpacks weighing between 5-15kgs as they scale the 118-high limestone hill at Mullaghmore before rising at dawn the following day to compete in a two-team challenge in which they roll giant tractor tyres through a course while sprinting on Fanore Beach.

But as the camera pans over the stunning seascapes and vast lunar landscape of The Burren, Fitzgerald reminds them that they aren’t alone in the challenges facing them.

“I’m feeling 50. I’m overweight, I’m absolutely bricking it,” he said.

Davy’s Toughest Team airs on Wednesday, March 29, on RTÉ One at 9.35pm.


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