University College Dublin A.F.C.

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Full name University College Dublin Association Football Club
Nickname(s) The Students, College
Founded 1895 (as Catholic University
Medical School)
Ground UCD Bowl, Belfield,
Dublin 4
Ground Capacity 3,000
Chairman Keith Dignam
Manager Collie O'Neill
League League of Ireland
(First Division)
2015 First Division, 3rd
Website Club home page

University College Dublin Association Football Club (Irish: Cumann Peile Choláiste na hOllscoile, Baile Átha Cliath), known commonly as UCD, is the football team of University College Dublin. They play in the League of Ireland. The club, founded in 1895 was elected to the league in 1979 under the management of Dr. Tony O'Neill. Since the 2008 season they have played at the UCD Bowl, also home to the college's rugby team. 'The Students' play in sky blue and navy.


Foundation and Early Years

University College Dublin A.F.C. was founded in 1895 as the Catholic University Medical School Football Club. They began playing regular games the following year. A First XI played College games against other Universities and a Second XI entered outside competitions. The club was founder members of the Leinster Junior League in 1896 and reached the semi-finals of the Leinster Senior Cup in 1897. The club became University College Dublin when the new University annexed the Medical school in 1908. UCD won the inaugural Intervarsities competition, the Collingwood Cup, in 1914 and added the Irish Intermediate Cup the following year beating Portadown 2-1 in a replayed final. When the Irish Free State was formed in 1921 and the new Football Association of Ireland was formed, UCD participated in the Preliminary round against fellow non-League team Shamrock Rovers in November 1921. The game took place in Windy Arbour and the Hoops won 6-2. UCD were invited to join the League of Ireland in 1922, but had to turn it down on the basis of not being able to field a team in the League of Ireland Shield in September as the Academic year didn't commence until October. In 1945 they won the FAI Intermediate Cup when UCD beat fellow future League of Ireland members Cobh Ramblers 4-2 in the final. UCD appeared in the FAI Cup in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, their final appearance as a non-League outfit coming in 1957 when Cork Athletic beat UCD 4-2 in the Mardyke.


In 1970 the club was elected to the League of Ireland B Division and embarked on a series of landmark tours, becoming the first Irish team to play in places like India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Jordan, Philippines, China and Australia. A second invitation to join the League of Ireland was accepted on 22 July 1979, when Cork Celtic were expelled for not having their financial affairs in order. Their first competitive game was on 26 August losing to Drogheda United 2-1 in the FAI League Cup. Theo Dunne was appointed first team coach, and apart from a brief spell at Home Farm 1990-94, he was in charge of first team affairs until he retired as coach in 2001. Dr. Tony O'Neill who was general manager when the club joined the League remained in that role until his untimely death from cancer in October 1999.


The club struggled initially in the league after their election, never finishing higher than twelfth in the 16-team league, although they did win the Leinster Senior Cup in December 1980, beating St Patrick's Athletic 2-1 in the final. However, important changes within the club in 1983 marked a dramatic upturn in fortunes. The previously amateur club turned semi-pro, and players outside of the college were allowed to represent the first team. This is still the situation today, although in practice most of the players are either students or ex-students. By the end of the 1983–84 season, UCD had won the FAI Cup, beating Shamrock Rovers 2-1 after a replay. Shamrock Rovers weren't to lose another game in the competition for over three years – until they lost to UCD in 1988.

That win saw UCD qualify for European competition – the European Cup Winners Cup – for the first time. The draw pitted them against Everton, then one of the leading sides in England and boasting players of the calibre of Neville Southall, Kevin Sheedy, Graham Sharp, Peter Reid and Andy Gray. The home leg was played in Tolka Park and a crowd of 9,000 – many times UCD’s average league crowd – saw the Students come away with a scarcely believable 0-0 draw. Another remarkable performance was to follow two weeks later as a solitary Graham Sharp goal gave Everton a 1-0 win. Joe Hanrahan skimmed the bar for the Students late on; had he scored, UCD would have progressed on away goals – as it was, Everton went on to win the entire competition, and smashed several records in winning their nation's league title. UCD's performance was made all the more remarkable by the fact that at the end of the year Everton were voted the best club side in the World for 1985, by the managers of world national teams.

That season saw UCD finish fourth in the league, but they were then forced to release many of their best players due to financial difficulties. Joe Hanrahan signed for Manchester United for IR£30,000, Ken O'Doherty moved to Crystal Palace and Alan O'Neill left for Dundalk. The team were relegated in 1985/86 with eight points, a record low in the Premier Division. Despite this, in 1987, UCD won the World Collegiate Championships in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Promotion in 1988–89 was followed by an immediate relegation, and it was 1994–95 before UCD were to return to the Premier. They did so by recording a then record points tally for the First Division, also breaking the record for most goals scored and fewest goals conceded.


In 1999–00, a late burst saw UCD finish fourth in the league and qualify for the Intertoto Cup. Their opponents were the Bulgarian side PFC Velbazhd Kyustendil, who boasted a couple of full Bulgaria internationals, including Ilian Stoianov, who would go on to represent his country in the 2004 European Championships. UCD kept up their proud European record with a pulsating 3-3 draw in the first leg in Belfield Park, before drawing 0-0 in Bulgaria to bow out on away goals. History unfortunately repeated itself as the Students once again nearly sneaked victory as they hit the post late on.


In 2001, Paul Doolin, one of the most successful players in the League of Ireland, took over as manager from former player Martin Moran. After enjoying a successful first season, the team only just avoided relegation in 2002–03 and was eleven points adrift when Doolin left to take over at Drogheda United in September 2003. Pete Mahon was immediately installed as the new manager, and UCD almost staged an incredible Houdini act, losing four games in 16, closing the gap at the bottom to two points and recording the highest points total for a relegated team.

2004 saw more of the same, as UCD, together with Finn Harps, smashed the First Division points record and were promoted with ease. They marked their return to the Premier Division with a highly creditable 1-1 draw away to two-time reigning champions Shelbourne. There was a bright point in College's indifferent season when they got into the League Cup final after a 2-1 victory over Shelbourne in the semi-final at Tolka Park. They went on to lose the final 2-1 to Derry City at Belfield Park. A season that started with UCD as contenders for the drop ended relatively well with UCD well clear of the drop-zone in 9th place.

2006 was one of UCD's most successful seasons in a few years. Despite being knocked out of the League Cup in the first round, "The Students" recovered well, finishing the season in 6th place and reaching the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup. The performances of many in the squad did not go unnoticed, with Darren Quigley and Gary Dicker establishing themselves as under-21 internationals. Quigley then went one better and became on B international, when he appeared as a substitute against Scotland B in November. UCD players also attracted interest from many British clubs. Quigley has had trials at many clubs across the water, Stockport County paid €56,000 for Dicker in May 2007[1] and Patrick Kavanagh signed for Birmingham City after impressing on trial there. The club was relegated at the end of the 2008 season and Manager Pete Mahon wasn't offered a new contract.

2009-to Present

Mahon's assistant since 2005 Martin Russell took over as Manager and UCD swiftly bounced back to the top flight of Irish football at the first time of asking by securing their second First Division title, promoted after a 5-0 away win over Athlone Town in the penultimate match of the season on 30 October 2009, ahead of former Premier Division teams Shelbourne, Longford Town, Waterford United FC as well as a strong challenge from recently formed Sporting Fingal FC.[2] Under Russell UCD AFC remained in the Airtricity League Premier Division. In 2011 the club qualified for the Setanta Sports Cup, an All-Ireland competition, where they lost to Lisburn Distillery FC 1-0 over two legs. At the beginning of the 2014 season Russell was replaced by former coach Aaron Callaghan, who had to serve out a 5-game dug-out suspension awarded while at rivals Bohemian FC. UCD struggled all year and The Students lost a two-legged relegation/Promotion Play-off with Galway FC in November 2014. Since March 2015, UCD compete in the Airtricity League First Division, the second tier of the League of Ireland. UCD became the first League of Ireland team from the second tier to progress through a European tie in July 2015 when they saw off Luxembourgish champions F91 Dudelange in the Europa League. A lone Ryan Swan strike at UCD Bowl gave The College their first win in a European leg and then a remarkable game at the Stade Jos Nosbaum saw Swan give UCD the lead early in the game. But after Sean Coyne was sent off for a Professional Foul, F91 scored twice before half-time through Joël Pedro and Kevin Nakache. UCD players put up the most incredible defensive display of the season led by goalkeeper Niall Corbet and kept the second-half scoreless. With an aggregate score of 2-2, winning on the away goals rule.[3]

Scholarship scheme

UCD A.F.C. is noted for its highly regarded scholarship scheme, which gives players the chance to combine senior football with the opportunity to earn a college degree. This was based on the North American model and created on 1979 on UCD's entry into the League of Ireland Senior Division. The first recipient of the award was Keith Dignam, sponsored by Irish Potato Crisp manufacturer Tayto. Past scholars include Kevin Grogan, Joe Hanrahan his brother Peter Hanrahan, Jason Colwell, Jason Sherlock, Clive Delaney, Gary Dicker, Paul Corry and Robbie Benson.

Former players

Many famous players have played for UCD down the years. Former Irish international Kevin Moran, who would later play for Manchester United, Sporting de Gijón and Blackburn Rovers played in the League of Ireland B Division and was signed for Manchester United from UCD’s graduate team, Pegasus. Moran also won an All-Ireland Gaelic football winner’s medal with Dublin in 1976 while at UCD, as would Jason Sherlock nineteen years later. The Leeds United legend and record goalscorer Peter Lorimer played three games before returning to England for a final spell with Leeds. Gavin Whelan (nephew of Ronnie Whelan) and Pat Jennings (son of Northern Irish international Pat Jennings) played for UCD in the most recent relegation season. Brian Lenihan played in the 1955 FAI Cup tie against Sligo Rovers and later ran for President of Ireland. Willie Browne won numerous international university caps while at UCD, he subsequently went on to win 3 full Republic of Ireland caps, 16 amateur caps, 1 Republic of Ireland B cap and 6 Inter-League caps and captained Bohemian for 3 consecutive seasons. Hugo MacNeill scored 46 goals in 1977-78, but went on to greater things with the Ireland national rugby union team, winning the Triple Crown in 1985 and playing in the 1987 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Former Sky Sports and current Setanta Sports pundit Paul Dempsey played for one season in 1982/83 before taking up a job with the BBC. Dave Norman played senior international football for Canada while at UCD and went on to play in the 1986 World Cup, and many players have received youth caps. Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no evidence that Brazilian star Sócrates ever played for the club.[4]

Fan culture

UCD has a small fanbase, which included until his untimely death the Father Ted actor Dermot Morgan, an occasional visitor to Belfield. When asked why he attended UCD matches, Dermot reportedly replied "Because I hate crowds". The unofficial club fanzine is Student Till I Graduate. It has published more issues than any other in the history of the LOI, currently 74 (end 2008). The UCD AFC Supporters Club [5] was founded in 2010 to give a structure for UCD Fans. After getting over 100 Members per year since its founding, during the 2014 season it received over 200 signed-up Members. On the 2nd of July 2015, In a home Europa League qualifying fixture against F91 Dudelange, The UCD firm was reborn in the Lower left tier of the Bowl and will be present at all future home games.

European record

Correct as of 10 July 2015


Competition Played W D L GF GA
European Cup Winners' Cup 2 0 1 1 0 1
UEFA Intertoto Cup 2 0 2 0 3 3
UEFA Europa League 4 1 0 3 3 8
TOTAL 8 1 3 4 6 12

Past opponents

Season Competition Round Opponent Home Away Aggregate
1984–85 European Cup Winners' Cup 1R England Everton 0–0 0–1 0–1
2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup 1R Bulgaria Velbazhd Kyustendil 3–3 0–0 3–3(a)
2015–16 UEFA Europa League 1Q Luxembourg F91 Dudelange 1–0 1–2 2–2(a)
2Q Slovakia ŠK Slovan Bratislava 1–5 0–1 1–6
  • 1R: First round
  • 1Q: First qualifying round


See also: Category:University College Dublin A.F.C. players

Current squad

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Republic of Ireland GK Niall Corbet
Republic of Ireland GK Karl Skinner
Republic of Ireland DF Ryan McLaughlin
Republic of Ireland DF Declan Brennan
Republic of Ireland DF Seán Coyne
Republic of Ireland DF Adam Harney
Republic of Ireland DF Maxim Kouogun
Republic of Ireland DF Mark Langtry
Republic of Ireland DF Mick Leahy
Republic of Ireland DF Evan McMillan
Republic of Ireland DF Daniel Tobin
No. Position Player
Republic of Ireland MF Robbie Benson
Republic of Ireland MF Jamie Doyle
Republic of Ireland MF Timmy Molloy
Republic of Ireland MF Greg Sloggett
Republic of Ireland MF Jack Watson
Republic of Ireland MF Dylan Watts
Republic of Ireland MF Gary O'Neill
Algeria FW Samir Belhout
Republic of Ireland FW Conor Cannon
Republic of Ireland FW Ryan Swan
Republic of Ireland FW George Kelly

Notable former players

Current players excluded. Some players spanned several decades, they are placed in the decade they made their debut for UCD.


Current technical staff

Position Staff
Director of football Republic of Ireland Pat Devlin
Head coach Republic of Ireland Collie O'Neill
Player/coach Republic of Ireland Evan McMillan
U-19 coach Republic of Ireland Albert Sugg


University's Cup

1971, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2014
1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013

Club records

Most league appearances for U.C.D. A.F.C.

(Players in bold still playing for UCD)

# Name Career Appearances
1 Republic of Ireland Ciarán Kavanagh 1990-02 321
2 Republic of Ireland Tony McDonnell 1993-07 308
3 Republic of Ireland Alan Mahon 1997-08 260
4 Republic of Ireland Alan McNally 1999-09 243
5 Republic of Ireland Robbie Griffin 1990-98, 2003 214
6 Republic of Ireland Mick O'Donnell 1995-05 206
7 Republic of Ireland Robert McAuley 1997-05 197
8 Republic of Ireland Michael O'Byrne 1993-01 195
9 Republic of Ireland Éamonn McLoughlin 1994-01 194
Republic of Ireland Darren O'Brien 1986-97, 1999-01 194

Most league goals scored for U.C.D. A.F.C.

(Players in bold still playing for UCD)

# Name Career Goals
1 Republic of Ireland Michael O'Byrne 1993-02 57
2 Republic of Ireland Darren O'Brien 1986-97, 1999-01 53
3 Republic of Ireland Robbie Griffin 1990-98, 2003 39
4 Republic of Ireland David McMillan 2008-10, 2012-2013 36
5 Republic of Ireland Robbie Martin 2000-05 34
6 Republic of Ireland Jason Sherlock 1994-98 31
7 Republic of Ireland Ciarán Kilduff 2009-10 29
8 Republic of Ireland Tony McDonnell 1993-07 28
9 Republic of Ireland Paul Cullen 1988-92 27
10 Republic of Ireland Ciarán Kavanagh 1990-02 25
Republic of Ireland Martin Moran 1979-85, 1989 25
Northern Ireland Mervyn Cree 1972-76 25

U.C.D. A.F.C. Supporters' Player of the Year

Season Winner
1999-00 Republic of Ireland Ciarán Martyn
2000-01 Republic of Ireland Clive Delaney
2001-02 Republic of Ireland Barry Ryan
2002-03 Republic of Ireland Barry Ryan
2003 Republic of Ireland Mick O'Donnell
2004 Republic of Ireland Seán Finn
2005 Republic of Ireland Darren Quigley
2006 Republic of Ireland Tony McDonnell
2007 Republic of Ireland Conan Byrne
2009 Republic of Ireland Evan McMillan
2010 Republic of Ireland Ciarán Kilduff
2011 Republic of Ireland Gerard Barron
2012 Republic of Ireland Michael Leahy
2013 Republic of Ireland David O'Connor
2014 Republic of Ireland Robbie Benson



  1. "Stockport capture UCD midfielder". BBC Sport. 30 May 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Soccer Tables".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Futebol- Ask Alex". Futebol The Brazilian Way of Life.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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