“UCD – a college playing in second tier of Irish football are in it over this financial fair play s**t , it’s a joke”
“F***ing UCD in Europe; what a joke!”
These were just some of the things written on social media, and later plastered on the dressing room wall pre-game, when it was announced that League of Ireland First Division (Second tier) side University College Dublin were to be Ireland’s UEFA Fair Play entrant in the Europa League in May. Now, striker Ryan Swan, who was released by Premier Division strugglers Bray Wanderers, has just struck home (on 30/06/15) his side’s winning goal, the only winning goal a League of Ireland side has scored in this round, against Luxembourgian outfit F91 Dudelange, a 1-0 win for the College.
“I’m just delighted that it went in, but more importantly, I’m delighted that we won and got a good result” beams Swan, as he speaks exclusively with Young Perspective. “When I saw Bens [Robbie Benson; UCD midfielder] getting it, I know he’s brilliant at splitting the defence with passes, so I knew to get in behind and he found me and thankfully I slotted it away. I had to celebrate, but then get it back. You can’t go too much because there was still another 45 to go and we needed the result.”
The Dubliners played with their trademark flair, which has consistently gained the club plaudits throughout the years despite their dwindling league position and attendance. However, most importantly for goalkeeper Niall Corbet, they managed to escape without conceding a potentially game-changing away goal. Considering the team’s inexperience, only a handful of players were born before the 1990s, it is a remarkable feat to keep a clean sheet against a side that boast numerous capped internationals.
“It’s a shock to be honest”, ‘keeper Corbet told us just minutes after the final whistle. “It’s a great achievement from all the lads. It was tough. We had to sit back at times especially if we didn’t get to play the football we want to. To come out here I think we would have taken 1-1, 0-0 just to be in the second leg, but to win the game and keep a clean-sheet, not conceding an away goal was huge for us and we have every chance going over there now.
“It doesn’t suit to go direct, you know? [Ryan] Swan up front is quick, he’s an outlet if we need him, but the way we play is to keep it short and sweet and kind of play around them and it worked for us. The goal was great work from [Robbie] Benson and a great finish from Ryan. Credit to him it was a great finish. He’s scoring goals and it’s what we need.”
The students will travel to Dudelange on Thursday, where temperatures are expected to reach a whopping 30+ degrees. Shamrock Rovers were in Luxembourg on Tuesday playing Progres Niederkorn, with Rovers defender Luke Byrne telling us “The heat was definitely a massive factor in the game.” Rovers, hot favourites, struggled to create chances and were lucky to come away with a 0-0 draw from Niederkorn. “We’re just not used to playing in it over here and you tire quicker playing in it.
“It is a disadvantage but it’s like that for both teams. You maybe have to manage your legs better and as a team adapt a different way of playing”
It will be like nothing striker Swan has ever experienced before. “I didn’t know what to do tonight with the heat! I’d never experienced anything like it. I know next week is going to be very hot as well. I’ve a couple of mates who play for Shamrock Rovers, they came on during the week and I’ll have a chat with them and see what they say.”
Image credit: Dirk Vorderstraße (dirkvorderstrasse, flickr)
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