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Rugby and study go side by side for Leinster wing master

Kildare man will get more time to focus on on-field honours as he nears end of nine years of study at UCD, writes Marcus Ó Buachalla

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Adam Byrne weathering the elements at Energia Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Adam Byrne weathering the elements at Energia Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Adam Byrne weathering the elements at Energia Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Whisper it. Christmas is coming. But while most look forward to sending their letter to Santa, one Leinster player is looking forward to getting his own letter, or should that be letters, after his name.

Adam Byrne is in the final weeks of an arduous but hopefully rewarding nine-year-long journey through UCD and the finish line is in touching distance as he gets set to complete his Masters.

"It's been a long road all right but I've loved it. From my undergraduate and right through now to my Masters which I will hopefully finish by Christmas with the final two modules. It's hard to believe that this will be it but yeah, it will be great to have it done and dusted and finally submitted."

Adam Byrne, Master in Biomedical Engineering, has a certain ring to it and it's been an educational journey that Leinster Rugby has been a huge part of. In fact, the completion of his Masters after nine years in UCD will come nearly seven years to the day from his Leinster debut in 2012. So rugby and the books have gone side by side and still do to this day.

"Leinster and UCD, I can't thank them enough. They both supported me in equal measure . It is something that is hammered home to you in the Academy. Get your education sorted, get to college, because you never know what's around the corner. Leo and the backroom staff have been hugely supportive and I was even invited in last week by Leo to present to the group about my studies and findings. Usually the Wednesday is our day off but it is now our personal development day and we've been really encouraged to use that day to further studies, or work experience, or education, or charitable work and it's brilliant that we are being given the licence to do that."

Was it odd to stand up and present to the group like that about something so out of tune with what would normally be presented?

"Not really. I suppose when you have come through nine years in college, assignments and presentations are part and parcel of that process. And I was presenting to lads that I know so it was actually really enjoyable.

Presenting

"The thing about it as well is that at this stage in my studies what I was presenting on is fully me. I believe in it. So the prep isn't really work. I know it. I understand it and it was really enjoyable to pass on some of the lessons I've taken from my time in UCD back to the group."

Those lessons have also been put to good use with a company that he is involved with, Output Sports, a start-up company based out of UCD that measures athlete performance analytics into a wearable system so that coaches can better understand the athlete's performance.

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"They are still very much at the start-up stage but the product demo is with 40 sites at the moment across a range of different sports and teams like in the NBA, the NFL, the Premier League, the GAA. So far I've been dipping in and out but hopefully I'll be able to contribute a bit more now and as they enter the market properly in the new year. I'll hopefully be able to help them as they strive for more funding."

The industry is also taking note and Output Sports was recently awarded Best Business Idea 2019 at the national final of Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur held in Google's European HQ in Dublin. As well as the title, CEO and co-founder Dr Martin O'Reilly also won €15,000 worth of investment.

"Yeah, it's been great to see the company grow and to see the potential too is really exciting. They're a great bunch of lads and for me it's just brilliant to be able to match my educational background with something that I am hugely passionate about."

With the books nearly put to bed, it will leave him even more time to focus on his rugby career. Fifty-four Leinster caps and an Ireland cap against Argentina to date have put the Kildare man front and centre in Leo Cullen's plans but he knows only too well how quickly that can all change.

"The competition in the back-three at Leinster at the moment is frightening. And then over the next few weeks we have Rob (Kearney) back, Jordan (Larmour) back. Even the centres back like Robbie (Henshaw) and Garry (Ringrose) which might mean lads that are currently playing in the centre get pushed out to the wings.

"So I am just looking at every game and every opportunity on its own and thankfully this weekend in Galway it is on me and 22 other lads to represent the rest of the group as best we can."

The first inter-pro of the season. Europe around the corner. Aviva games around the corner. More interpro derbies. Is that even more pressure than normal this weekend?

"No, not at all. I think the pressure that we have applied on ourselves as a group so far this season has stood to us really well. Unbeaten in the PRO14 obviously and that's where we wanted to be when welcoming the Irish lads back. We know the block ahead could define our season but that doesn't bring with it any more pressure than normal. I think the standards we set and expect of each other, we look to uphold them whether that is in pre-season, in friendly matches, in training or now in competitive games."

Foes

The trip to Galway will - potentially - bring him face to face with some very familiar foes and that will hopefully add to the occasion.

"I lived with Tom (Daly) for quite a few years in a house with Josh (van der Flier) and Peter (Dooley) but Tom is down now in Galway and doing well. There are a few Leinster lads there now like Tom Farrell as well and I think you just have to admire them for how they have done.

"It's not easy leaving your home province but they have backed themselves. The WhatsApp group has been a little quieter this week but Tom is back up to Dublin on Saturday for a catch-up and no doubt we'll kick off again. We've only played each other once before in an U-20s game between UCD and Lansdowne and I think he kicked a penalty to level the game at the death."


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