"I applied to DkIT because it was different and I didn't want to follow the crowd to Belfast. I felt the course suited me better and you can go home to your bed every night."
DkIT Sports Scholar & Student on BA in Hospitality Management
Colleen McKenna (19) from county Armagh smiles as she says,
“I didn’t want to follow the crowd to Belfast.”
Instead she commutes to DkIT where she is in her second year studying Hospitality Management and on a Sports Scholarship.
A former student of St Catherine’s College, Armagh, she said “I play gaelic football. I played for the Armagh senior ladies team last year but with placement as part of my course this year, I couldn’t commit to them this year.”
Juggling both passions can be hard but she says, “getting out to go to training it just relaxes you and relives you from studies a bit, it is good.”
“I’ve been playing since I was about 8 years old. It is in my family and bred into me like,” she said before adding that her brother Michael plays for the Armagh senior men’s team.
“I applied to DkIT because it was different and I didn't want to follow the crowd to Belfast. I felt the course suited me better and you can go home to your bed every night.”
She was delighted to be awarded a Sports scholarship and sees it as a reward for the hard work she had done in gaelic and at club level.
“You get great help and support through the Sports Society office, they really help you out if you are struggling and they offer you a wide range of facilities and opportunities.”
She trains twice weekly with the DkIT ladies team and does a separate strength and conditioning session weekly with the college.
She is encouraging other women to apply for the scholarships and to DkIT saying they can do both.
“Once you realise you can juggle both and that it is possible to do both you studies in school or college and your football, it means they will be willing to (continue) to play as well.”
“I know it is very hard to get girls out to play football but once they realise it is manageable, then it is easier for them to commit to things.”
“It is also a great way of meeting new people as well. I came up and I knew nobody and joined the football team and I've made loads of friends”
She says Derek Crilly and the sports management team are friendly and supportive and “if we are falling behind on college work they will help us, they talk to our lecturers and we get extra support to get our grades back up.”