Alumni Corner - David Kent

Former Sports Editor David Kent looks back at his time within the UO in the award-winning Volume XXII

Upon visiting the Observer office to retain my title as ‘office hobo’ for the 8th year running, I was asked by the AWARD WINNING Editorial team to take a seat in this comfy corner.

Finally, I thought, my chance to be witty and be like my hero Steve Buscemi and, “say how do you do fellow kids?!”

Then I had a reality check: why would they want to listen?!

Let me take you back to 2016 -  sitting in the UCD Bowl, watching 19-year old James Ryan captain the Ireland U20s side to a victory over the All Blacks  - as earlier that same day, I had had to ring one of my parents to enquire how to correctly iron a shirt as a twenty year old.

In one way, I do have the Observer to thank for my first proper journalistic job - and, if you want to get very philosophical, the reason that I am a journalist.

It was while I was Sports Editor in Volume XXII that our editor Gráinne Loughran received an email from Power Tower, the headquarters of Paddy Power in Ireland and (conveniently) the big orange building that you can see overlooking the campus behind the sports institute. They were wondering if there were any writers available they could borrow from the UO to help them for a busy 2016.

The sports section at that point was, shall we say, not-very-well contributed to, having gone through the usual UO routine of having plenty of writers to start the semester before fading away. So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity and put myself forward.

However, I have yet to find a moment in my career that equalled the sheer, unbridled joy in the Aviva Stadium on April 11, 2016. Having toiled away all year, the UO had been rewarded with a couple of Student Media Awards but a good few of my extremely talented colleagues had missed out (as had I, the first of three occasions it would happen), so the air was flat.

That was until, right at the end of the evening and when all hope seemed lost - we were awarded Newspaper or the Year. 

Cue pandemonium.

Our Deputy Editor Patrick Kelleher and design wizard James Healy leaping out if their chairs and endless proud, happy tears came forward, to later be followed by endless celebration and proud, happy/hazy heads trudging back to the corridor from the afterparty the next morning.

It taught me how to deal with a cost-of-living crisis (chips in the student bar used to be €1, if you can believe that.)

We had an SU presidential impeachment years before Donald Trump claimed he was the first leader to face one.

I was able to go to the gym and look nervously at an 18 stone future Irish Rugby international easily throw around three times my weight.

But maybe most crucially, it left me with many contacts in the industry. I can look at any major media organisation here and in the UK and point to at least one person that has a connection with the UO in some form (even Dara O’Briain, who upon hearing that I was helping to edit the paper he founded, simply advised: ‘don’t f**k it up).

A motto we can all live by.