Heroic Ho­gans now one step from ‘Fittest’ glory

14-YEAR-OLD JAY IN­SPIRES VIC­TORY IN SEMI-FI­NAL OF TV COM­PE­TI­TION

Enniscorthy Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - By SIMON BOURKE

THE Ho­gan fam­ily from Ferns have pow­ered their way to the fi­nal of Ire­land’s Fittest Fam­ily thanks to the hero­ics of one of the pro­gramme’s youngest ever com­peti­tors.

Jay Ho­gan (14) went vi­ral on Sun­day evening af­ter scal­ing the no­to­ri­ously chal­leng­ing fi­nal ramp all by him­self. Hav­ing found him­self out in front on his own the CBS teenager scaled the steep, slip­pery sum­mit which has put paid to many a fam­ily’s hopes dur­ing the show’s six sea­sons.

As a re­sult Jay, older brother Josh, and par­ents Tom and Dena, who are coached by Wex­ford hurl­ing man­ager Davy Fitzgerald, will now con­test the fi­nal in Croke Park on RTÉ One on

De­cem­ber 15 at 6.30 p.m.

Yet, de­spite his ex­ploits and the at­ten­tion it has brought him, Tom said the youngest mem­ber of the team has been tak­ing it all in his stride.

‘ The hype has gone com­pletely over his head, he doesn’t pay too much at­ten­tion to it, he just sees it as a bit of craic. He’s hav­ing a laugh with it at school.’

And with the show hav­ing been filmed in the sum­mer Tom said the en­tire fam­ily have been care­ful to en­sure no-one lets the cat out of the bag.

‘ The kids at foot­ball have been ask­ing Jay about the re­sult non-stop, even the par­ents, but he’s say­ing noth­ing,’ Tom laughed.

WHILE most 14-year-old boys are look­ing for­ward to the Christ­mas break and won­der­ing if they’re fi­nally too old to stop believ­ing in Santa, young Jay Ho­gan is com­ing to terms with life as a mi­nor celebrity in his home town of En­nis­cor­thy.

Along­side brother Josh (17), dad Tom (37) and mam Dena (37), Jay has been fea­tur­ing in RTÉ’s hit show Ire­land’s Fittest Fam­ily. And fol­low­ing Sun­day’s episode, which saw the Ho­gans bat­tle their way to the Croke Park fi­nal, Jay’s pro­file has sky­rock­eted.

As the race with the Uí Bhraonáin fam­ily from Car­low reached a dra­matic con­clu­sion, Jay found him­self out on his own, face-to-face with the no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult fi­nal ramp.

A steep, slip­pery slope which has bested many an older, big­ger foe, it seemed as if Jay would have to wait for the rest of the Ho­gan fam­ily be­fore he could hope to scale the sum­mit. Not a bit of it. Un­de­terred, the Sham­rocks soc­cer player thun­dered ahead, mak­ing light work of the task, clam­ber­ing to the top, al­beit af­ter a brief strug­gle, and en­cour­ag­ing the rest of his clan to do the same.

They duly obliged, en­sur­ing the Ho­gans pro­gressed to the fi­nal which will be screened on RTE One on Sun­day De­cem­ber 15.

But while all four agreed it was a team ef­fort, those on so­cial me­dia were only in­ter­ested in one per­son. As one of the youngest ever com­peti­tors on the pro­gramme Jay was feted, not just for his ex­ploits over the course of the fi­nal chal­lenge but for mount­ing the ramp with such gusto.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to dad Tom, the teenager is tak­ing it all in his stride.

‘ The re­ac­tion was great. He’s prob­a­bly the youngest to have done it,’ said Tom. ‘But the hype has gone com­pletely over his head, he doesn’t pay too much at­ten­tion to it, just sees it as a bit of craic. He’s hav­ing a laugh with it at school.’

And with the fi­nal hav­ing been filmed dur­ing the sum­mer Jay’s friends have been busily try­ing to dis­cover the out­come be­fore it is screened to a na­tional au­di­ence in a cou­ple of weeks’ time.

‘ The kids at foot­ball are ask­ing him about the re­sult non­stop, even the par­ents, but he’s say­ing noth­ing,’ Tom said.

Although Jay’s older brother Josh is cur­rently hav­ing to play sec­ond-fid­dle to the young ath­lete, their fa­ther said the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence has been hugely ben­e­fi­cial for them as a fam­ily.

‘For a lad of that age to spend time with his par­ents is rare, but he went train­ing with us ev­ery week, went away to the events. It was great for all of us. We’d do our own things usu­ally, our in­di­vi­u­dal sports, but the com­pe­ti­tion brought us to­gether, it’s some­thing you wouldn’t usu­ally get a chance to do,’ Tom said.

The pro­gramme also gave the Ho­gans a chance to sam­ple life un­der the tute­lage of one Davy Fitzgerald, an ex­pe­ri­ence which co­in­cided with a dif­fi­cult time in the Wex­ford hurl­ing man­ager’s life.

‘It was great work­ing with Davy, he can have the craic but when it’s go time, it’s go time,’ Tom said. ‘We got an in­sight into why Wex­ford have been do­ing so well; he’s a great man man­ager and is able to read peo­ple bril­liantly, he knows who to put the arm around and who to try and get a rise out of it.

‘We filmed an epiosde the day af­ter the Tip­pereary game so you can imag­ine what he was like that day.

‘He seemed up in the air about ev­ery­thing and we were get­ting the im­pres­sion he was go­ing to walk away. He said if it had been any other group of lads he would have gone.’

The Ho­gans on ‘Ire­land’s Fittest Fam­ily’.

The Ho­gan fam­ily, Tom, Jay, Dena and Josh.

Jay Ho­gan cheer­ing on his fam­ily from the top of the ramp at the end of Sun­day’s semi-fi­nal of Ire­land’s Fittest Fam­ily on RTE.

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