A WEST Kerry graduate was among those honoured at University College Cork's annual prizegiving, which recognises the exploits of exceptional students.
Luke Burgess of Monaree, who has a BSc (Hons) in Business Information Systems, was presented with The Peel Memorial Prize, which is bestowed on students who have taken their primary degrees with first-class honours in the minimum time and have played a distinguished part in the public life of the university.
The award, which was presented on April 16, marks the culmination of many years of hard work for Luke (24) who has excelled both in his academic studies and on the pitch as a talented soccer player for his county, university and even his country.
Luke moved to West Kerry from Oxford with his parents Alan and Jackie, his brother Justin and his sister Georgia in 2002, going on to attend Dingle CBS and then Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne.
His talents as a soccer player saw him carve out a name for himself on the pitch and before long he was playing with Kingdom Boys and then the Kerry District League while also representing Kerry at inter-county level. Luke also represented Ireland at international level with the underage squad.
When he was 17 Luke was called up to join Wickham Wanders in the UK. Incredibly, while trying to make it as a professional soccer player in England, he also continued to study for his Leaving Certificate on his own, before returning to Dingle to sit his exams later in the year.
Despite studying for his Leaving Cert by himself, his results saw him secure a place on the Business Information Systems degree course in UCC. There, he played soccer from the get-go and, along with earning a sports scholarship for his four years of study, excelled on the soccer pitch leading UCC back to top division soccer. He will go down in the annals of UCC's sporting history with his stunning strike in extra time back in 2011 to help bring the Irish Universities Collingwood Cup back to Leeside for the first time since 2005.
Luke is now working in Glasgow but, according to his Mum Jackie he still loves West Kerry and comes home whenever he can. "We are very proud of Luke and what he has achieved; I suppose he saw his future as a professional soccer player but that life can be so hard," she said.