From pitch to patients: Cork GAA star graduates from UL with degree in medicine
Cork GAA star Seán Powter who was conferred with a Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery degree from University of Limerick Picture: Arthur Ellis
Thursday, 20 June 2024

Cork senior football centre forward Seán Powter has celebrated success off the pitch after being conferred with a Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery degree from University of Limerick.

Seán, from Douglas, Co Cork, graduated from UL’s Faculty of Education and Health Sciences this Tuesday, joining over 1,200 students being conferred this week as part of the University’s Summer Conferring Ceremonies.

Now in his eighth season with Cork, Seán recently celebrated his team’s win over Donegal in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship at Páirc Úí Rinn, as one of the goal-scoring heroes.

Seán played both hurling and football while going to school at St Francis College Rochestown, where he reached the finals of both the Corn Uí Mhuirí and the Harty Cup in 2015.

He made his debut as a Cork County footballer in the Munster Championship of 2016.

In 2017, he was selected for the International Rules team, traveling to play against Australia in Perth and Adelaide.

Seán studied Neuroscience at UCC and played in the Sigerson Cup during his time there. He was part of the 2019 winning team, despite being injured for most of the competition.

In 2020 Seán moved to Limerick to undertake graduate studies in Medicine.

“During my time studying Neuroscience, I developed a fascination with how the human body and brain work. Being an athlete also played a big role - I've had my fair share of injuries and learned first-hand how crucial medical knowledge is for recovery and overall health,” he explained.

“The idea of making a real difference in people's lives through healthcare really appealed to me. So, combining these interests and experiences, going into medicine felt like the right path.

“I went to UL because of the specific graduate medicine programme they offered. The problem-based learning model used in UL was extremely beneficial and a major reason why I chose UL. In addition, the amazing sports facilities they have was a major deal breaker.”

A recipient of a prestigious UL Sports Scholarship, Seán played Sigerson football with UL under the guidance of manager Declan Brouder. They reached the final in 2022, but the team narrowly lost to University of Galway.

“My most memorable experience at UL was reaching the Sigerson final in 2022. It was the first final in 25 years for the footballers. Despite not getting the desired result, I ended up making friendships for life out of it and that’s what college is about.”

During his time at UL, Seán managed to strike a balance between his studies in medicine and football.

“There were times when I needed to focus on my studies and football suffered and vice versa but thankfully I had amazing support from family, friends and managers who helped along the way.”

“My parents have been the main driving force behind my development as an athlete and a student. Without them, I would not have made it this far, so I am extremely grateful to them.”

“My motivation comes from the fear of not reaching my potential. I don’t ever want to wake up and think I have reached only 70/80% of what I could been. That’s why when I commit to something it’s always 100%.”

On completion of his internship, Seán hopes to go travelling before pursuing a career in sports medicine.

“The plan for the future is to survive the internship and then maybe see Australia where my father is from. I have always been interested in sports medicine with my injury history, especially hamstrings.”

This weekend sees the Cork Senior Footballers face Tyrone in Tullamore.

“At the moment things are good, we are after two good wins against Clare and Donegal. The final game against Tyrone will see who tops the group. The hope, like every year, is to bring some silverware back to Leeside for the first time since 2010.”

Reflecting upon the past four years studying Medicine Seán shares his words of wisdom for those about to start their UL journey: “My advice is to constantly do a bit of study on regular basis rather leaving it all to the end. With medicine, there is so much, and it is almost impossible to cram. If you are constantly just tipping away, you’ll be fine.

“Secondly, enjoy it! My four years flew, it only feels like yesterday I was walking into the School of Medicine building and now I am doctor, so just enjoy it!”