Perennial quiz champion Francis Mulholland has made it through to the Grand Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year award for the second year in a row.
The green-fingered CAFRE student from Toomebridge had to dig deep to win his place at the all Ireland in Dublin this May.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill praised Francis’ success and said she hoped May would be his time to flourish.
“I’m very proud of Francis making it through to the Grand Final for the second year running.
“ He is clearly a very talented, enthusiastic and gifted young horticulturalist. I wish him every success for the final in Dublin.” the Minister said.
She added: “CAFRE provides a rich fertile learning environment...I hope Francis’ success will encourage others to explore the many exciting courses and careers on offer at CAFRE.”
The second year Foundation Degree Horticulture student will now compete against seven other regional winners for the £2,500 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary in the Grand Final at the National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, Dublin on the 7 May.
Francis, and fellow CAFRE student Sinead Duncan, answered 45 tough questions from a variety of subject areas including plant identification and pest and disease recognition in the regional final.
Francis said: “I’m delighted to make it into the Grand Final this year again. I have been working really hard so I’m pleased for myself, and all my tutors at CAFRE, to get this far.
“Obviously, I’d love to win the overall title and the travel bursary which I’d use to see a bit more of the world and gain more horticulture knowledge.”