Niall Ó Murchú has his sights on the 2016 or 2020 Olympics, but in the meantime he is putting his education first.
The first year engineering student chose Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) as his top choice after friends told him of a strong practical side to the programme there and his careers counsellor advised him of its links with employers.
Niall (19) had toyed with the idea of two other colleges, but what crowned it for the former student of Gaelcholaiste Cheatharlach in Carlow was the accommodation scholarship DIT offers for Irish-speaking students. It covers 25pc of his accommodation costs, and so is worth about €1,300 a year.
“When I got the scholarship, it swung it for me”, said Niall, who hails from Carlow town.
He is “very happy” in DIT and is sharing an apartment in a purpose built student block in the IFSC, which, importantly for this champion rower, includes a fully-equipped gym.
“I am trying to train twice a day, but it has to fit around college; my education comes first” said Niall, a member of the Carlow Rowing Club team that won the Junior Eights Championship in 2008.
Last year, he was one of two of the Carlow club members selected for the Junior Pairs to represent Ireland in the European Junior Championships.
His goal is the Olympics but “my education has to come first”. While he regards the 2012 games as a bit early, he is keeping hopes alive for either 2016 or 2020.