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Fittest family Super fit Tommy Mahoney works out six times a week but didn't make the cut for family team on RTE show

Gym-mad dad says he would have slowed his wife and sons down

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Mum Joanne and Dad Tommy with sons (from left) Alan, Kevin and Conor in their home gym.

Mum Joanne and Dad Tommy with sons (from left) Alan, Kevin and Conor in their home gym.

Mum Joanne and Dad Tommy with sons (from left) Alan, Kevin and Conor in their home gym.

Meet the gym bunny dad who was forced to stay at home while his wife and sons went off and won Ireland's Fittest Family.

The Mahoney clan from Co. Wexford scooped €15,000 when they triumphed on the hit RTÉ series last Sunday night, with a massive 575,600 viewers tuning in to see their coach Davy Fitzgerald cheer them on to victory.

Super-fit father-of-three Tommy (57) begged to be allowed go to the final but was told he could not attend due to Covid restrictions, and instead tried to take his mind away from how they were doing by walking his dogs and doing odd-jobs around his home.

The cash injection could not come at a better time for the family as Tommy and his wife Joanne's once thriving gymnastics business has been closed since early last year because of the pandemic.

Joanne (53) and her three strapping sons Kevin (24), Conor (20) and Alan (17) had an agreement to split the cash-pile four ways if they won, working out at €3,750 each.

All three lads. from near Barntown, are GAA fanatics, with Conor lately making the Wexford senior hurling panel.

RTÉ rules state that there has to be at least one female on each four-person team in the competition, so Joanne had to be first on the list.

Despite being fit at gymnastics, she only took up running two months before the first heat of the show and was given a programme by local personal trainer Sue Murphy.

Tommy knew that he would have to give way to all three of his sons making the team.

"That's the whole reason I could not go into it, there was no way this old guy was going to compete against those three fit fellows," he said.

But modest Tommy is no shrinking violet when it comes to fitness.

"I use the gym about five or six days a week anyway," he said.

"I go over to the Ferrycarrig Hotel gym. I'm sort of an early bird. I could be in the gym at 6.30am and have my workouts done before 8am and get back for my daily routine. I've been a gym user all my life."

He primarily likes using rowing machines.

"Generally with older age and the knees giving out and the lesser impact, I tend to use the rowing machine a lot," he said. "This time last year in February, I set myself a target that I would row a minimum of 5k every day and that often increases some days to 10k, and actually my maximum one day was 18.5k."

In his younger years Tommy played Gaelic football for Volunteers in Wexford, before the family moved to Barntown. Once the family got into the RTÉ show he decided to help them out.

"At the time, the guys were training for it we were lucky enough in lockdown at that time as well," he recalls. "This girl Sue Murphy (personal trainer) gave us a rowing machine and a bike and a few weights and stuff, which we put into our gymnastics centre so we were lucky enough to be able to train away there.

"So I was training with the boys coming up to this, just in case one of them got injured before the show. I was quietly hoping!

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Tommy takes his greyhounds for a walk.

Tommy takes his greyhounds for a walk.

Tommy takes his greyhounds for a walk.

"We wouldn't have won it with me on the team, I know that, and the lads are very glad that they did win it because they know damn well that if they didn't I would have told them that we would have won with me on the team! So we are quite a fit family. I'm every bit as competitive."

Tommy had to wait at home and bide his time while his family took off to Co. Wicklow to climb mountains, trudge through swamps, swim across lakes and scale obstacle courses.

"It was quite difficult seeing them going off to the show," admits Tommy. "Joanne asked Davy on my behalf could I come and watch them, especially when they got to the semi-final and final, but due to the Covid restrictions I wasn't allowed go to it. So everything you saw on TV was my first time seeing it as well."

He spent countless hours at home doing bits and pieces to try to take his mind off what was happening a hundred miles away.

"I had my daily routine," he notes. "I also have greyhounds and stuff that I do, so I would be up in the morning and doing my thing with the greyhounds and do some work around the house.

He still had to wait by the phone hoping to hear good news as to how they did each time.

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The family trained hard ahead of entering the popular RTÉ competition.

The family trained hard ahead of entering the popular RTÉ competition.

The family trained hard ahead of entering the popular RTÉ competition.

"Joanne would be on the phone and I won't say they would ever let me know what happened, because first of all they'd be telling me a few fibs, sort of 'we're gone', 'we're finished', 'we're knocked out' or whatever, but eventually you'd hear the big 'yee-haw, we're there'. It was great what they did what they did, but because of the times we had to do what we had to do and I couldn't go up. That was hard actually," he said.

Joanne is full of praise for her three sons, who at times had to pull her up hills and through water as she was so exhausted.

The family were delighted to get Clareman Davy Fitz as their mentor, given the All-Ireland-winning goalie is manager of Wexford.

"Oh my God, I know we all wanted it. I wanted it because they wanted it so much," she said.

"He was always going to be the one who was going to the most out of them, particularly Conor. Conor's dream is to be on the county team. He is on the senior hurling team for Glynn-Barntown."

Kevin works in C&D providers home improvement centre in Barntown, Conor recently started a job as a postman in Wexford town, while Alan is in school in St Peter's College.

"Kevin wants to spend his money on travel, to go to New Zealand, Australia or Canada maybe for a year or so," Joanne tells the Sunday World.

"He had plans to go away this October or November, but that's been put back it will be next year before he does it now.

"Alan is in fifth year in school, he's into football and was on the county minor football them. He wants to go to America when he finishes school."

Joanne and Tommy had been running bustling gymnastics classes in a purpose-built centre they built next to their home, and are so successful several of their students have represented Ireland in European competitions.

The reaction to their win has been phenomenal.

"I go for a walk around the country roads here and there's more people stopping the cars and saying 'well done' and we are getting loads of cards in the post, all texts and what's apps and everything - it's been absolutely fantastic," added Joanne."

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