Hit The Books

What are your memories of studying for exams during big sporting events?

With the Leaving Cert starting today, our writers recall the plethora of distractions that threatened to undermine their study.

Leaving Cert Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS around the country are getting set for the start of the 2015 Leaving Cert.

For the sports fans amongst them, there’s going to be the dilemma over the next month with events such as the Ireland international matches potentially serving as distractions.

We’d love to know your memories of studying for exams from down through the years and a few of our writers took a trip down memory lane to get the ball rolling.

Niall Kelly

“I was one of those poor unfortunates doing the Junior Cert during the 2002 World Cup. The first I heard of that little Saipan issue was after coming out of class to get picked up. As far as I recall, the conversation went something like this:

Mam: Roy Keane’s been sent home.
Me: Back to the hotel? Is he injured?
Mam: No, sent home. There was a row. He’s not playing in the World Cup.

“Thankfully the Cameroon game was on a Saturday morning so I was able to watch that, but I was in the middle of English Paper II for the Germany game. The supervisors had a little TV in one of the outer rooms so we could hear their shouts when Robbie equalised.

“There was a good bit of looking around until one of the supervisors came in to the top of the room, held up one finger on each hand and mouthed “one-one, Robbie” until we’d all got the message. I think quite a lot of my exam answers that summer were football-themed.”


Ryan Bailey

“Thankfully my Leaving Cert in 2011 didn’t interfere with any major sporting events but I’ll always remember the afternoon when Ireland played Germany in Niigat at the 2002 World Cup. I must have been in first class at the time and the excitement when the teacher wheeled the TV into the classroom just before kick-off still sticks in the memory.

“Because I took the school bus home, I had to leave with a couple of minutes of the game remaining, assuming Ireland had been beaten. By the time I got home, there were lads driving around with tricolours hanging out the window and belting out, ‘there’s only one Keano!’.”

dinadangdong / YouTube

Paul Fennessy

“Fortunately, unlike so many poor souls, I was spared the inconvenience of missing the 2002 World Cup and consequently got to witness another brave but ultimately unsuccessful Ireland performance in all its glory.

“For my Leaving Cert, I did miss parts of the 2006 World Cup. Two memories stand out: one was feeling incredibly guilty for watching the England-Paraguay game in its entirety when I really should have been studying.

Getty Images / INPHO Getty Images / INPHO / INPHO

“It was a dour match, but it was worth it just to witness the hilarious contrasts between the BBC’s and RTÉ’s analysis (Shearer: “I thought Steven Gerrard was excellent today,” Dunphy: “Gerrard was anonymous, Bill”).

“The second is doing the French paper and my friend leaving the exam hall at the earliest possible time in order to rush home and watch the big game… South Korea versus Togo in the first round of the group stages. The match turned out to be a complete bore and yet he still SOMEHOW ended up with a better grade than me.”

Ben Blake

“Back in 2002, I remember popping in to Barry’s Hotel to watch the Ireland v Saudi Arabia game in between (I think) History and Geography. Checking Aertel for updates on Roy and Saipan instead of studying was another clear memory.

“I also got barred from an exam for having a tricolour mohawk and after missing Robbie Keane’s equaliser against Germany because of English Paper II, I walked out to find the final score written on a whiteboard.”


Sean Farrell

“School was a bit out of town, but within minutes of full time versus Germany in 2002, you could hear the cheering from the road (about 300 metres away through the trees)

“After a business exam, I remember the focus being on the England against Argentina game and watching that in the Castle Inn.”

What are your memories of studying for exams during the World Cup or for any other big sporting events? Let us know in the comments section below.

A version of this piece was originally published on 3 June 2014.

Wenger, Woodward and Ayre – who are the key figures directing your club’s transfer activity?>  

German TV commentator explains Mertesacker’s BFG nickname for his viewers>


Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.