Former Stoke City footballer Ryan O’Reilly and multiple sprint athletics champion Zak Irwin were among 22 new recipients of IT Sligo Sports Scholarships for 2017, which were announced by the Institute on Monday.
The awards provide financial and mentoring support to athletes of outstanding talent, many of whom may have already represented IT Sligo, their county or Ireland in their respective sports.
Recipients are supported by IT Sligo in keeping up their sporting commitments at the same time as pursuing their educational commitments and goals.
Cavan native O’Reilly is one of two ‘Gold’ sports scholarship recipients this year. He spent five seasons with English Premier League club Stoke before opting to return to Ireland and continue his education at IT Sligo where he is studying for a degree in business. He has represented the Republic of Ireland at every underage level. “Coming back to Ireland, I wanted to continue my education and to keep playing football,” said 21-year-old Ryan. “IT Sligo has given me the opportunity to do that.”
The other ‘Gold’ scholarship recipient for 2017 is Sligo sprinter Zak Irwin who is a first year international marketing student. He is a multiple national title winner both indoors and outdoors and has previously represented Ireland at the World Junior Athletics Championships in 2014.
The list of recipients also includes Donegal Gaelic footballers Andrew McClean, Jamie Brennan and Michael Langan. The trio recently made their senior intercountry debuts for Donegal in the Dr McKenna Cup competition in Ulster.
Sligo Rovers U19 footballers Shay Doherty from Sligo and Gary Higgins, a native of Ballyhaunis in Mayo, are also new scholarship recipients.
While GAA and soccer provide the bulk of the 22 new scholarship students, this year, basketball, equestrian and karate also feature with the awards spanning eight different sports in total.
Nine-time Irish boxing champion and former world junior championship winner Ciara Ginty from Geesala in Mayo is also recognised.
Congratulating the new sports scholars on their awards, Dr Brendan McCormack, president of IT Sligo said: “One of Institute’s core missions is to develop and nurture rounded graduates and individuals. It is why we place a strong emphasis on the extra-curricular element to higher education, through programmes like our sports scholarship scheme.
“Each of our sports scholarship recipients has excelled in their chosen sports activity and in so doing they have enhanced IT Sligo’s reputation as an academic setting that values and rewards sporting prowess.”
In addition to the first-time recipients, a further 28 students had their existing sports scholarships renewed. These include Northern Ireland women’s soccer international Catherine Hyndman, IT Sligo Sigerson Cup captain Daragh McConnon and Irish international surfer Ronan Oerzten.
IT Sligo allocates a €50,000 fund for the Sports Scholarships Scheme each year and all students are entitled to apply.
Since its introduction in 2003, the IT Sligo sports scholarship programme has benefited students involved in a wide range of sports including soccer (ladies/men), Gaelic football (ladies/men), athletics, basketball, surfing, boxing, camogie, hurling, golf, equestrian, lacrosse and martial arts.
Sligo All-Stars basketballers Philip Hamilton and Tobi Brockman, above, were among the new IT Sligo Sports Scholarship recipients this week, as were Donegal footballers (L-R) Andrew McClean (Kilcar), Michael Langan (St Michael’s) and Jamie Brennan (Bundoran), below.
List of new IT Sligo Sports Scholarship recipients 2016/17
County-by-County breakdown: Sligo 9, Mayo 6, Donegal 3, Westmeath 2, Cavan 1, Leitrim 1.
- Abigail Adams – Karate Aghamore, Ballyhaunis Co Mayo Year 1 in BA in Creative Design
- Fola Aryionde – GAA & Soccer Mullingar, Co Westmeath Higher Certificate in Science
- Jamie Brennan – Gaelic Football Bundoran, Co Donegal Human Nutrition – Year 1
- Tobi Brockman – Basketball Ballisodare Co Sligo Year 1 Mechatronics
- Shay Doherty – Soccer Strandhill, Co Sligo Health Science & Physical Activity
- Kevin Gallagher – Equestrian Ballygawley, Sligo BA Hons Accounting Year 1
- Ciara Ginty – Boxing Geesala, Co Mayo Studying Health Science & Physiology
- Damien Golden – Hurling Mullingar, Co Westmeath Final Year BA Hons Accounting – Year 3
- Philip Hamilton – Basketball Carney, So Sligo BSc Hons in Computing – Year 1
- David Hanley – Gaelic Football Mulranny, Westport, Co Mayo Year 1 Agri-Food Science Degree 19
- Gary Higgins – Soccer Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo Health Science & Physiology
- Zak Irwin – Athletics Sligo Year 1 International Marketing
- Niamh Kerins – Soccer Grange, Co Sligo Occupational Safety & Health – Yr 1 Grange in County Sligo
- Scott Kilker – Gaelic Football Belmullet Co Mayo Health Science & Physiology – Yr 2
- Michael Langan – Gaelic Football Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal Quantity Surveying
- Amber Lynch – Soccer Sligo Higher Cert in Accounting
- Brian Mahon – Gaelic Football Collooney, Co Sligo Health Science & Physicality – Yr 1
- Andrew McClean – Gaelic Football Kilcar, Co Donegal Mechanical Engineering – Year 1
- Niall McGoven – Gaelic Footballers Ballinamore, Co Leitrim Mechanical Engineering – First Year
- Denise McGrath – Soccer Ballymote, Co Sligo Health Science & Physiology – Second Year
- Ryan O’Reilly – Soccer Cavan Bachelor of Business – Year 1 From Cavan
- Laura Regan –Soccer Balla, Co Mayo Human Nutrition Level 8– First Year.
Sligo sprinter Zak Irwin is a Gold IT Sligo Sports Scholarship recipient this year.