Prior to relegation in 2014, UCD had the unique accolade of being the only university in Europe to field a men’s soccer team in their national first division. Having been relegated in 2014 and spending four seasons in the second tier, nobody tipped them to be automatic promotion contenders at the start of the season but the young scholars proved everyone wrong.
After a long fight back, the UCD team is once again playing Premier Division football in 2019. This season has been challenging, but performances have been positive even while results haven’t gone their way. From June to September 2018, the team experienced an unbeaten run, which meant that a point against Finn Harps restored UCD to the Premier Division, as champions.
For parts of the first SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign game, Finn Harps were the better team. 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 UCD’s Conor Davis scored his fifth goal in three games to earn a share of the spoils for UCD.
UCD’s unique model has the entire team currently on scholarship studying at UCD, which encourages development on and off the pitch. UCD Soccer Club has produced both students and graduates who have gone on to represent the country.
A number of players earned international call-ups this year. Neil Farrugia, who was last year’s FAI International Schools player of the year, and Liam Scales, who was capped for the Irish Colleges & Universities international team last year, were both named in Stephen Kenny’s Ireland Under 21 squad for the UEFA European Championships qualifier against Luxembourg in March 2019. Farrugia scored one and assisted with another goal in a 3-0 victory.