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Former Royal Conor has found a home at UCD

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UP FOR THE CUP: UCD striker Conor Davis is relishing tonight’s FAI Cup semi-final clash with Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile

UP FOR THE CUP: UCD striker Conor Davis is relishing tonight’s FAI Cup semi-final clash with Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile

UP FOR THE CUP: UCD striker Conor Davis is relishing tonight’s FAI Cup semi-final clash with Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile

The young footballer wasn't sure what to do. To stay at home in Ireland and sign for a League of Ireland side or take a chance and move to England.

Knocklyon lad Conor Davis, 16 and confused, saw an opportunity to get some advice from a man who'd been there and done that.

"It was one of those nights when we went to the Aviva Stadium to collect our international caps, we were in the players' lounge and when I saw Séamus Coleman I asked if I could have a word about what to do, at the time I was either going to sign for Shamrock Rovers or Reading," says Davis, then an Ireland U16 cap.

"Séamus just said that you never know if you will get a second chance to go away so he advised me to go abroad and see where it took me, if it doesn't work out you can always come home."

Davis, a product of Tempelogue United, took the chance and became a Royal, signing for Reading. It didn't work out as the forward came home to Dublin in the summer, needing to rebuild his life as well as his career as he'd left home without a Leaving Cert.

Education is back on the agenda as he studied accountancy in England and is on an access programme which could see him start a degree in UCD.

And he's made big inroads in terms of a football career, scoring seven goals for UCD, including one goal in the FAI Cup quarter-final win over top-flight side Waterford which earned them a meeting tonight with champions-elect Dundalk.

That Dundalk side have blitzed bigger and better clubs, winning 15 of the last 16 games but Davis says there will be no fear, only flair, on the Students' team bus to Dundalk this evening.

"Everyone is high on confidence after winning the First Division and we're looking forward to Dundalk," says Davis.

"It will be my first time playing on live TV but that doesn't bother me at all and I don't see it as added pressure, I have been telling my friends who can't make it to Oriel Park to make sure they see it on TV. It will be a good one."

UCD are mocked (by some) over their fanbase but Davis is a big fan of the college system, overseen by league-winning manager Collie O'Neill.

"The first thing Collie said to me when I came here was that he wanted me to enjoy my football again, I had come to UCD at a time in my life or career where I was down in the dumps and not enjoying my football, and that's turned around pretty quickly," says Davis.

"It was difficult when I came home, to get my head around it. I knew for a few months over there that my contract would not be renewed so I was putting plans in place and looking ahead," added Davis, who plans to stay loyal to UCD in the face of predicted interest from others.

"I hadn't played many games before I joined UCD, so my priority is not money, it's about game time and developing as a player.

"I want to play at highest level I can and there is a time for that but for now, it would take quite a lucrative offer to get me away from UCD. We could even be in Europe next year," he smiles.


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