A good balance of work and play is key to doing well at exams, according to two of the top achievers in Junior Certificate 2016.

Among 60,247 students to get results yesterday, over 22,500 were celebrating at least one grade A at higher level or in the common-level civic, social and political education.

An elite group of six to achieve the top grade were marking their success at schools in counties Cork, Meath, Sligo, Tipperary, and Wicklow.

Daniel Ghori from Douglas in Cork was among them, after receiving his results at the city’s Presentation Brothers College yesterday morning.

“I was expecting a bit less so I was definitely surprised and I’m really pleased,” he beamed.

The transition year also offered advice for younger students coming up behind him on how to get the best, whatever their academic talents.

“Definitely stick with sports and don’t give it up because of exams. Do start early with the study instead of leaving it all too late, but take breaks with sports or something else as well,” said Daniel.

The tips were similar from Gemma O’Dwyer from Holycross, Co Tipperary, who managed the same 12 As tally at Ursuline Secondary School in Thurles.

Gemma is already thinking about studying law in college, after taking up debating in primary school. However, she also kept up her camogie, playing wing-back with the school and her local club.

“I played straight through the Junior Cert year, and I’d say everybody should do the same. If you focus too much on getting top grades, it mightn’t happen, but it’ll come easier if you stick to your normal lifestyle,” she said.

She and Daniel were joined in the top ranks by Hollie Collins, a student at Schull Community College in Cork, Julie Gaine at Mercy College in Sligo, and two others at Ratoath College in Meath and East Glendalough Comprehensive School in Wicklow.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) president Ed Byrne congratulated all students, parents and teachers involved in this year’s Junior Certificate exams.

The union is engaged in an industrial dispute with Education Minister Richard Bruton over the reforms already being rolled out in the other one third of second-level schools where its members do not work.

As things stand, third-year students whose English teachers are ASTI members will not be eligible for up to 10% of their final Junior Certificate result in the subject next year because it involves writing about their experience of the school-based assessments not being undertaken as part of the row.

Mr Byrne said a priority of any reform must be to protect and improve on the key strengths of the education system.

Pictures taken by Dan Linehan, Denis Minihane, Larry Cummins and Domnick Walsh.

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