23 September 2016
Some of the finest young talent in the SSE Airtricity League are set to return to Third Level education at the start of the new 2016/17 season.
In fact, 86 players currently attached to SSE Airtricity League clubs in both the Premier and First Division, will return to their College and University sides for the start of a new campaign.
One of the outstanding talents in the league who are mixing top level football with further education is Jamie McGrath, who scored for St. Patrick's Athletic in the EA SPORTS Cup Final victory over Limerick last weekend, and McGrath admitted it was a great day.
Jamie McGrath, St. Patrick's Athletic, said: "It was a great day for me, especially to win such a big trophy such as the EA SPORTS Cup and it was a great feeling to play in front of such a big crowd.
"I had a decent run last year in the first-term and I'd hoped to continue it this season. With a few injuries in the squad, it gave me a chance so I took it and it's gone really well.
"We've got a few games in hand so we'll be looking to catch that fourth-place and we're also one game away from the Aviva Stadium in the FAI Cup which would be some experience.
McGrath is on a scholarship programme between the SSE Airtricity League club and Maynooth University where he can complete his further education.
The 20-year old believes the education and the scholarship programme offered in the SSE Airtricity League with Colleges and Universities is a huge plus for any player.
He continued: "I really enjoy playing college football so it's really good to be back for a new season.
"A lot of young players go to England from Ireland but there isn't sufficient education for those players. I think it's important to get both done because if football doesn't work out, you can fall back on your degree or visa versa."
"It's a great scholarship programme Maynooth University have with Pats and I'm very lucky to be on that."
Another player who has performed well in the SSE Airtricity League this season is Jack Watson who plays for First Division side UCD.
Enrolled at Dublin City University studying Athletic Therapy, Watson admits the balance of education and football has made these years the most enjoyable of his life.
Watson said: "Education is very important to me. I'm at DCU doing Athletic Therapy so I'm involved in sports in that way as well as playing football.
"I know it will really help me going forward. I'm on placement this year with the football team doing athletic therapy so it will help me see the other side of the game as well.
"Being involved with both has made these years the most enjoyable of my life so far and I think we're lucky to be able to mix top level football with further education in this country."