AS the exam season looms, many talented students across Donegal struggle to juggle their busy sporting schedules with study as they prepare to sit their Leaving Certificate.
The ferocious pressure of the CAO points race can raise the stress levels for teenagers – and their parents – as they try to get the right balance between sport and study.
However, a recent ESRI report has found that contrary to what many people believe, quitting sports in favour of study is not actually the route to academic success.
Indeed, the think-tank found that students who took part in sports in the years leading up to the Leaving Cert were more likely to go on to third-level education.
Balancing sport with the books has become second nature to two young Deele College students who are preparing to sit their Leaving Cert exams.
Eighteen-year-old Brett McGinty from St Johnston was captain of the Irish Boxing team which took part in the World Youth Championships in St Petersburg, Russia in November last. He’s also a member of the elite squad and travels to Dublin on a regular basis to train.
Young Newtowncunningham student Jordan Boyce won the All-Ireland Youth Darts Championship in Ennis back in March, having reached the World Youth final at the Lakeside twelve months earlier.
Both hope to continue their education at Letterkenny Institute of Technology next year.
“They’re two very talented lads, both in and out of the classroom,” Mr Joe Boyle, Deele College, Principal said.
“For Jordan to get to the World finals two years in-a-row shows the type of dedication he has put into his sport. He’s won a contract for next season too which affords him the opportunity to enter into a couple of major tournaments and the future is very bright for him. He’s also working very hard in school.
“Brett, for many years, has been the standard bearer in relation to his weight and age group in boxing. He’s an exceptional talent who has already competed at the Commonwealth Youth Games as well as on the European and World stage. What an experience that’s been for a young man who is sitting his Leaving Cert. We have very high hopes for him, both academically and within his sport,” Mr Boyle said.
“He’s had opportunities to join the National Squad this year but because of his exams these past few weeks he’s had to pick and choose which days to go down to Dublin.
“The fact that these two young lads can manage their busy schedules not only says a lot about them but also the family support they receive at home which helps to keep them grounded and focused.
“It just goes to show that young people can combine school and sport. They have proven that point,” he added.
Trying to cram in study while honing his boxing skills at the Oakleaf club in Derry has helped sharpen the focus for the Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist over recent weeks.
“There’s plenty of studying to be done yet unfortunately,” he said.
Beaten finalist in his first Irish Senior Championship back in February, Brett missed out on an international trip to Poland last week due to his studies.
“It was disappointing missing out but it’s my last year so I’ll put the work in now,” he added
Boxing in his home show this weekend, the St Johnston teenager explains that he’s keeping himself ‘busy’ in preparation for that fight.
“It’s always nice to box in front of your home crowd and family but at the same time I’m trying to put the study in,” he said.
Brett is hoping to go to LYIT next year to study Fire Safety and Engineering.
“I’m waiting to leave the pen down on the 17th of June so that I can rattle at it straight away and get back into the training,” he said, when asked about his boxing plans.”
He is a European Schoolboy bronze medallist and has won 12 Ulster and eight Irish titles.
“I’ve been to a lot of places through the boxing. It’s been good to me. I’m lucky to have been to so many places and hopefully I’ll get to a few more in the future,” he added.
When’s he not boxing or studying, he plays football with Kildrum Tigers.
“I try and train as early as possible after school to get it over and out of the way so I can then go home and get a couple of hours study done,” he said.
Jordan (17) from Newtowncunningham is one of three young players announced by Unicorn Darts as winners of their Unicorn Next Generation.
“It’s been flat out. I’ve been back and forth to Wigan and Barnsley playing a few tournaments in recent months,” he said.
“The books are kind of in the way of darts but it’s there and it (study) has to be done,” he added.
Jordan is lucky in that he doesn’t have to leave the house to practice his skills at the oche.
“I do an hour here and an hour there – between study and practising – each night. I’ll be playing most nights now though as the league is up-and-running,” he added.
Like, Brett, he too would like to go to LYIT next year to study Engineering.
Transition Year student Tyler Toland is a member of the Republic of Ireland’s Under 17 squad and she’s just back home from the UEFA European Championship finals in the Czech Republic.
Tyler (16) plies her trade in Derry with Maiden City and the midfielder is the only girl in the league. She played in all the Irish games in the Czech Republic last week.
“I did Transition Year this year for the football. It has allowed me to kick on and concentrate on the European finals. It was a great experience. I’m underage next year too (U17) but I suppose I’ll have to juggle that with fifth year work,” she smiled.
“Tyler is a very talented young sportswoman. Speaking to Dave Bell (Irish U17 manager) he has nothing but very positive things to say about Tyler,” Mr Boyle said.
“They’ve all had excellent Junior Cert results and Tyler is just finishing up Transition Year. She’s used that year very well. It has afforded her a little space and allowed her to prepare for the Euros. Again, great credit to both Tyler and her parents for their support,” the Deele College Principal added.
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