'I wanted to be working at something hands on'
The Teagasc student of the year awards have been running for over 30 years, with eight finalists each receiving €500 each, while the two runners-up receive €1,000 and the winner walks away with €1,500.
One of the runner-ups was another student who had achieved plenty off the farm before she decided to take the plunge. Emma Cotter (pictured) studied pharmacy after receiving a stellar Leaving Cert of 520 points, but decided to return home to the family's farm at Castlelyons in Cork after just six months working in the pharmacy sector.
"I wanted to be working at something hands on, and that's why I opted for the practical one-year course at Clonakilty to get my Green Cert," said the 26-year-old.
With her dad unable to help out on the farm due to diabetes, Emma and her mother, Marian, split the work between them to look after the spring calving herd.
The other runner-up was Galway dairy farmer Brian Hynes. The other finalists included: Colm Murphy from Palace East near Enniscorthy in Co Wexford; Joseph Kearns from Ballinameen, Boyle, Co Roscommon; Glenn Patterson, Drum, Co Sligo; Brian Hogan from Birdhill, Co Tipperary; and Darren McGourty from Ballivor in Co Meath.
Notably, only one of the finalists was not a dairy farmer, with Mr Kearns going home to an organic suckler herd.
Minister Michael Creed congratulated all the finalists who were chosen from almost 1,000 students who completed level six agricultural training programmes with Teagasc in 2015."You are a credit to yourselves, your parents and to the staff who have guided you through your education," he said.