Aiming high on and off the pitch
Westmeath football sharpshooter John Heslin is also making waves in his career as an agricultural researcher
To say John Heslin is a busy man is an understatement. But there's no complaint from the Westmeath star, since the combination of farming and football that is consuming him this summer are the two passions of this young man's life.
Heslin (23) was man of the match in his county's first ever championship win over Meath nine days ago, with the victory made all the sweeter after enduring some mild ribbing in the lead-up to the match at his workplace in Teagasc's Meath research centre at Grange.
Away from the cheering crowds of Croke Park, the Mullingar man is forging a career in agriculture having followed on his ag degree with a PhD on heifer puberty. A supremely talented Gaelic footballer he may be, but farming was his first love and he knows it will end up his career.
Born in Boston, Heslin's family moved home when he was six. They then bought a 50ac farm near Mullingar, which his father still works on a part-time basis finishing heifers.
"I remember years ago I used to really enjoy going over to my granny's dairy farm.
"Growing up I would help out at home when my dad was busy and it's something I really enjoyed. Coming up to the Leaving Cert I was thinking of becoming a quantity surveyor, but then when there was the downturn I said I may as well go for something I enjoy and that was Agricultural Science.
"I really know now it was the right choice," says the UCD graduate.
Belfield certainly suited the young Heslin as he lined out in the Sigerson Cup while still finishing his studies with a first class honours degree. That grade opened the door to further studies in a PhD.