25 Sep 2018
Prior to being relegated in 2014, UCD was for a long time the only university in Europe to field a team in their national first division. However the good times will now return next season as UCD will be playing Premier Division football in 2019.
An unbeaten run dating back to June meant that a point against Finn Harps ensured that UCD were promoted back to the Premier Division as champions.
The visitors from Donegal were the better team for large parts of the game, UCD Captain Gary O’Neill saw an effort go wide but chances were few and far between. They led briefly inside the final ten minutes, before Conor Davis scored his fifth goal in three games to earn a share of the spoils for College.
The Belfield side have also qualified for the semi-finals of the FAI Cup for the first time in 11 years and will play Premier Division leaders Dundalk in their home ground Oriel Park. With many former UCD players lining out for Dundalk including Robbie Benson and most recently Georgie Kelly, a win here will UCD play in the Aviva on the way to a truly historic double.
This year UCD has been praised by it’s model which see’s the entire team of players currently on scholarship, studying here in UCD. It has been said that UCD model is one that every club in the country should be envious of. Having been relegated in 2014 and spending those four seasons in the second tier, nobody tipped them to be automatic promotion contenders at the start of this year but the young scholars proved everyone wrong.
Captain Gary O’Neill commented;
'I'd go as far as to say that it's four years work. Since I've been here, it's been a transition. We've been trying every year, and we've just been falling that little bit short.
'This year, we got our just rewards. I think we've been brilliant from start to finish, we've been top since week three. All in all, in terms of consistency, we deserve to be champions.'
UCD Soccer Club has produced some of the finest student athletes who have gone on to have very successful careers in other clubs both in Ireland and abroad.
UCD Manager Collie O’Neill is adamant that this model can be equally successful in the premier division and is confident his players will again silence the naysayers.
He paid tribute to the squad after the win, saying club was "like a family."
"In twenty years time, this group will probably be meeting up together, having a drink. They’re buddies, they look after each other, and mind each other on and off the field. That’s why we’ve had success this year," he said.
As the College season is ready to kick off the league side has little time to rest and now this team will look to retain the Colleges League and Collingwood Cup again this year.