Irish dads get a bad rep. From Hollywood portrayals of Angela's Ashes-type boozy boors to the Bull McCabe's bullying field fetishist, a certain generation of Auld Lads are expected to behave a particular way in regards to their offspring. They should never have changed a nappy, or shown real emotion (unless it's apoplectic rage over an immersion bill) and never ever should have boasted about their kids. That was women's work.
"I hear young Finbarr won the Nobel physics prize for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales. Fair play."
"Yerra, the same fella picked his nose til it bled until he was 12 and a half. And would it kill him to pick up the phone to his mother of a Sunday?"
But Stephen Mooney changed all that tonight. He personifies the new Ireland. The Ireland where you can have goat's cheese in your giant fridge and an Ooni pizza oven on your patio and dads can be emotional wrecks on national television.
He starts tearing up every time he tries to convey how proud he is of his family. At the end, he's the last one up the ramp and the three kids have him grabbed by the ankles to help haul him over the top, he's suspended upside down, like a helmeted starfish, until they drop him and he slithers to the bottom, defeated.
He looks up at his coach, and then at his family aloft the ramp. "Sorry," he says, dipping his chin. 'Don't you be one bit sorry,' says Donncha, the absolute DOTE, his voice quivering. Mairead is totes emosh as well. It’s brilliant.
This second installment in the forest was full on, with Derval's clan, the Sextons from Kildare getting knocked out first on the High Nellie round, aka, the worst spinning class ever.
The three-way race is next, called, in what might be a copyright issue, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Davy’s O’Sheas from his home county Clare emerge the winners here, leaving the O’Brien’s from Cork and Dublin family, the Mooneys, battling it out in the Epic Eliminator.
And to be fair, although some of these rounds sound like they were dreamed up in the Hyperbole HQ of RTÉ, this really was epic. So time was called on poor old publican Stephen and his clan but we should all raise a glass to this fabulous father. They may not be the fittest family, but they always have each other's backs... and ankles.