CORK actress Norma Sheahan admits she and her family were far from favourites when she was asked to participate in Ireland’s fittest Family Celebrity Special.
Norma and her team — cousin Leonard O’Sullivan, sister Paula Cogan and niece Sheena Buckley — were crowned champions after a gruelling day of tests and she said it was a pleasure to take everyone by surprise.
“I think I was chosen to be the joker, seen as a joke, we were set up to fail from every aspect,” she said. “Derval O’Rourke said afterwards we were the fourth favourite.
“But Leonard was determined we weren’t there for a laugh. But even so, she was stunned to eventually come out on top.
“There is a ramp at the end, I don’t know how we got up it!” she said.
“How we did end up winning is that some of those fit and strong people couldn’t hang over the Liffey. They pulled the trucks so fast they couldn’t feel their legs so they couldn’t balance on the beam afterwards.
We girls were much better at balance and things like that plus Leonard was all about planning and strategy. We stuck with it and the steady horse won the race.”
They celebrated with typical Cork fervour and Norma couldn’t resist a cheeky dig at Davy Fitzgerald, who mentored opponents Keith Walsh and his team.
“We were jumping around singing the Banks of my own lovely Lee,” she said. “When we got up at the ramp at the end and realised we had won. I turned to Davy and said ‘Alright Davy, it’s not about the taking part, it’s about the winning’!”
Most importantly for the family, their win also gives a massive boost to Cork ARC Cancer Support House, who looked after Norma’s mother when she was ill.
“We just kept bringing it back to ARC House, I can’t believe we have won €10,000 for them, I have never raised so much in my life,” she said, while also paying tribute to mentor Donncha O’Callaghan.
A large crowd of family, friends and supporters gathered in Whitechurch community Centre on New Year’s Eve to watch the RTÉ show.