Monday 19 March 2018

Double joy for boss as UCD prepare for next adventure

UCD manager Collie O'Neill
UCD manager Collie O'Neill
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Officials of UCD could not afford to bask in the afterglow of Thursday's famous Europa League progression in Luxembourg as attention quickly turned to planning next week's trip to Slovakia.

But, for manager Collie O'Neill, a dream week continued as he landed back in Dublin and travelled straight to the Coombe Hospital where his son, Carl, was born at 5.40am yesterday.

O'Neill only travelled out for the second leg with Dudelange on the morning of the game after staying in Dublin with his wife Jenny awaiting the arrival of their third child.

He was given the green light to make the trip and duly presided over a heroic performance as the unfancied 10-man Students managed to hold on for the entirety of the second half to progress via the away goals rule after a 2-1 loss on the night.

Their efforts have secured a total prize fund of €410,000 for the First Division side after they gained entry to the competition via the Fair Play route.


Naturally, travel expenses will eat into that figure. They chartered a plane for the Dudelange encounter and are doing the same at short notice for Bratislava next Thursday, where the mission will be to keep the tie alive for the return at Belfield.

Combined expenses across the two trips could reach the €150,000 mark but that still leaves the UCD authorities with an unexpected jackpot.

By contrast, there is deep disappointment in the St Patrick's Athletic and Cork City camps after their exits at the first hurdle.

Both had high hopes going into their deciding encounters but the Saints were outsmarted by Skonto Riga at Inchicore while Cork capitulated in Iceland, conceding two goals after Reykjavik had a man sent off to go out after extra-time.

The defeats could have an impact when budgets are being drawn up for next year, a point that Saints boss Liam Buckley acknowledged.

"To only get one round, I would be disappointed because that would be an extra bit (of money) for next year. But it is what it is, we have to push on," said Buckley.

"We'll speak to the powers that be. Obviously if you can pull in two more rounds, it does help. We have a budget and it's strict. We could make it more professional with more money coming in."

UEFA's decision to increase prize-money levels has increased the importance of European ties, especially as the reward from the FAI for winning the Premier Division title is just €100,000.

"It's fantastic for the league clubs," said Buckley, "You're far better off winning cup matches here (Europe). So we have to get back next year."

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