With her wedding and a house move just around the corner, not to mention the return of Ireland’s Fittest Family,would have understood if he was joining Bridezilla for a cup of tea. Instead, he found himself chatting with very laid back Anna Geary, or as she describes herself, Bride-chilla.
Anna Geary apologises for the smell of spray tan as she gives me a hug in the foyer of the Kingsley Hotel in Cork. It’s two days before her hen party in Dingle (hence the tan) and she’s heading into the final month before her marriage to Kevin Sexton. So how are the stress levels?
“I was worried when I was younger that I’d be a Bridezilla because I’m so meticulous, whereas now I’m more a Bride-chilla. My dress-maker is ringing me up saying: ‘Normally I don’t have to chase brides for fittings, but is there any chance you’d come in and grace us with your presence?’
“To be honest, it’s more important that I have Kev and my relationship intact when I walk up the aisle. Some people get so stressed they wonder: ‘Should I marry this person at all?’”
She certainly doesn’t seem stressed. If I wrote down the things I definitely wouldn’t do in the weeks before my wedding, top ofthat list would be ‘Move into a new house.’ But then I’m not Anna Geary — herself and Kev plan to move into their new place in Sallins, Co Kildare before the big day.
“Kev is a Dub, so I’m trying to get his Dub’s head around living in Kildare, but I said it could be worse, he could be moving to Meath! And it’s on the road home for Cork. So, right now I’m dreaming of tiles and kitchens and carpets, not wedding invites.”
As you’d expect from someone who won seven Senior All-Ireland titles between Cork and her native Milford, Anna Geary thrives under pressure.
“A certain amount of stress is important, it puts the fire under our asses. For me, the stress around exam-time was good.
Three days beforehand I was cramming because I was really good to retain knowledge,” says Geary, adding that she takes the food supplement Zenflore (whom she is working with as part of their Change Your Life campaign) to help deal with stressful times of the year.
So is Kev pulling his weight in terms of organising the wedding?
“I’m a planner anyway, I always knew I’d be taking a big role. Kev has coined himself Head of Entertainment, I’m OK with that.”
Her eyes light up when she talks about her fiancee, even when I ask if he’s liable to do something dodgy at his stag party.
“He’s an old soul, he’d have no interest in the nightclub scene,” she says confidently.
He’s a surfing and trad sessions in an old man’s pub kind of guy. I’m happy enough for him to do what he wants, I’m not his mother, what happens on tour stays on tour, go away off and have a good time.
I ask if she is planing a big crowd for the reception at Castlemartyr Resort? “I won’t give the exact number! The only part of the wedding that stressed me is the guest list — I didn’t want to upset anyone. When we wrote down the list first we had a few hundred people, but neither of us wanted that kind of wedding. We didn’t want to spend the day feeling we had to tick off boxes, going to every single table, that’s exhausting.
“Some friends gave me helpful tips to cull the list — if you wouldn’t meet this person for lunch or a drink outside of your work, why are they at your wedding? They probably don’t expect to be there.”
Has she invited many celebs?
“There will yeah, a few of my pals, I would never refer to them as celebs.”
I ask her will she name some names — maybe some famous colleagues from her appearances on The Sunday Game, Ireland’s Fittest Family and Dancing with the Stars. She declines with a big laugh, adding: “I’m sure people will be only waiting to look at the pictures.”
So what’s her take on people posting photos of the wedding on social media? “I would like the day to be ours.” So is there a ban?
“Yeah, but I hate the word ‘ban’ because that makes it sound like there is some sort of punishment. If you want to post photos of yourself and others, knock yourself out. But every bride deserves the opportunity to be the first person to share a photo of herself.
“People can take that away by posting a photo on WhatsApp, and it mightn’t be the most flattering angle. Will I reveal a bit after the wedding? Absolutely.”
Is she looking forward to walking down the aisle?
“My mother says I love being the centre of attention. Now, if I’m on a dancefloor giving it socks, I’ve never had a problem with that. But I’ve never had a 21st, 18th or 30th birthday party. Even the hen, I don’t want to be the planned centre of attention.
“I’m apprehensive about walking down the aisle, with people’s phones in my face. I want to be able to see the faces of my friends. Since we got engaged and started thinking about this, I haven’t taken a photo of the bride at a wedding. I don’t take my phone out at the church.”
Herself and Kev will take a few days on the Wild Atlantic Way after the wedding, with honeymoon plans on hold until next year. For now, she is focused on settling into life in Sallins and on the next steps for her career.
Since retiring from inter-county camogie, she’s built an impressive portfolio with high-profile media gigs, columns in Feelgood magazine in this paper, along with her work as a performance coach for corporate clients. So what would she like to do next?
“I love radio. People can get sick of you faster on TV, you have to be mindful that you are not everywhere. So, I’d love to grow the amount I do on radio,” she says, referring to her 2-6pm slot every Sunday afternoon on Cork’s Red FM.
“I don’t want to be a DJ, talking is my passion”, she says, laughing at herself, adding that she’d like to reassure Neil Prendeville
that she isn’t after his gig.
I tentatively ask if there are plans for kids, but she’s not bothered by the question. “I’m in my early 30s, so whether I like it or not, it’s on my horizon. It’s something we’re considering, if we were both lucky to have them.”
Anna has carved out a niche as a go-to pundit for hurling and camogie on The Sunday Game and other shows. These gigs are scarce, now that more retired players are making their voices heard — does she ever seek the headlines with a controversial statement? “If you’re thinking like that, you shouldn’t be there in the first place. People see through that.”
Does she get much negative feedback?
I remember a few years ago I made a comment about the Cork camogie team, I wasn’t long retired, but it was the truth, like. People were saying: ‘How could she say that about her teammates?’ It was the same when I tipped Kilkenny to beat the Cork hurlers in this year’s All-Ireland series — but I just didn’t think Cork were going to win.
Can she see a move into coaching?
“You’re so helpless on the sideline, like in Fittest Family. It’s frustrating, when you’re willing on a family and you’ve given them direction and they’re not executing it the way they’re meant to. I’d have very high expectations. I don’t think anyone should settle for being mediocre. If you know there’s more in you and you choose not to give it, that drives me mad.”
We turn to food. Anna has glanced at the bar food menu during our chat, but eventually settles for a cup of tea. She gets fairly animated when I ask her about guilty food pleasures and food.
“We place things in the good and bad category — ‘Oh Lads, I was really bad today, I had a cake’. Really? Because you’re feeding yourself the negativity then. Having a cake is not ‘bad’. Burning out a car is bad.” What about drink?
“If I’m out, I’m out. But I’ll happily drive if I’m going out, because I can still be up on a bar counter sober as well.” I wonder if she’ll manage it in a wedding dress. We wind up our chat with some banter about our favourite takeaway food. I tell her I’m going home to demolish a pizza.
“Enjoy it,” she says as I head out the door. “And don’t call it bad.”