Graduates are good sports as they pick up college degrees
IT'S just not cricket -- but it's virtually everything else.
NUI Maynooth runs more than 100 individual sporting scholarships and yesterday many of its more athletically minded students turned out to accept the ultimate prize -- their degrees.
From GAA to rugby and from golf to snooker -- the only course of its kind in the world -- this is one college with a competitive edge.
Among yesterday's graduates, golfing sensation Daniella McVeigh (23) from Co Down accepted her degree in business management, which she hopes will help her monitor the millions earned from a promising pro career.
"I really enjoyed my three years there; it was very important for the development in me not only as a golfer, but as a person," she said after yesterday's ceremony at the Kildare campus.
NUI Maynooth runs programmes that blend academic pursuit with sporting excellence.
The first snooker scholar, Vinnie Muldoon -- who trained on the tables at the hallowed Sheffield snooker arena in England as part of his course -- also picked up his degree in business management yesterday.
And while not on scholarship himself, Paddy Mullins, son of legendary trainer Willie, believes that between his mother and Ruby Walsh, he got the best advice on the upside of college life.
"My mother told me that Ruby Walsh broke his leg when he was 18 or 19 and he spent six months with his girlfriend in Dublin in college and he said that it was something he would have liked to have done," he said.
Yesterday, the 21-year-old -- who at 6ft 1in is too big to even consider a career as a jockey -- collected his degree in equine business ahead of starting work in his father's horse yard next Monday.
John McGinnity, assistant registrar at Maynooth, said that it was important to blend sporting excellence with academic prowess.
"People need a qualification behind them because with all sports people just don't know if they will make it," he said.
Maynooth has graduated nearly 1,900 in the last week.
Among them was 80-year-old Noel Hynes who collected his degree in history and sociology.