Former Stoke City footballer Ryan O’Reilly and multiple sprint athletics champion Zak Irwin are among 22 new recipients of IT Sligo Sports Scholarships for 2017.
The announcement was made at a special event on the Institute’s campus on Monday.
The Sports Scholarship 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 Ryan O’Reilly is one of two Gold Sports Scholarship recipients this year. He spent five seasons with English Premier League club Stoke City 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 Sports Scholarship recipient for 2017 is Sligo sprinter Zak Irwin (pictured below) 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 (2014).
The list 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 Under 19 footballers Shay Doherty from Sligo and Gary Higgins, a native of Ballyhaunis in Co 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 Ciara Ginty from Geesala in Co 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 Darragh 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.
Of the 22 new IT Sligo Sports Scholarship recipients for 2017, nine come from Sligo, six from Mayo, three from Donegal, two from Westemeath, while Cavan and Leitrim have one each.
The list in full:
Abigail Adams – Karate (Mayo)
Fola Aryionde – GAA & Soccer (Westmeath)
Jamie Brennan – Gaelic Football (Donegal)
Tobi Brockman – Basketball (Sligo)
Shay Doherty – Soccer (Sligo)
Kevin Gallagher – Equestrian (Sligo)
Ciara Ginty – Boxing (Mayo)
Damien Golden – Hurling (Westmeath)
Philip Hamilton – Basketball (Sligo)
David Hanley – Gaelic Football (Mayo)
Gary Higgins – Soccer (Mayo)
Zak Irwin – Athletics (Sligo)
Niamh Kerins – Soccer (Sligo)
Scott Kilker – Gaelic Football (Mayo)
Michael Langan – Gaelic Football (Donegal)
Amber Lynch – Soccer (Sligo)
Brian Mahon – Gaelic Football (Sligo)
Andrew McClean – Gaelic Football (Donegal)
Niall McGovern – Gaelic Football (Leitrim)
Denise McGrath – Soccer (Sligo)
Ryan O’Reilly – Soccer (Cavan)
Laura Regan – Soccer (Mayo).
Photo caption (top):
IT Sligo basketball scholarship recipients (L-R) Philip Hamilton & Tobi Brockman