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'I actually work in UCD as well... So I don't have far to go for training'

New boss Andy Myler is expecting a tough season in the First Division amid a rebuilding job at the club.

 Andy Myler (right) celebrates with Michael O'Neill during his Shamrock Rovers coaching days.
Andy Myler (right) celebrates with Michael O'Neill during his Shamrock Rovers coaching days.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IT WAS QUITE the baptism of fire for UCD in the Premier Division last year.

Having triumphed in the First Division in 2018 while winning plenty of admirers with their stylish brand of football, they badly struggled in the top flight.

It didn’t help that key players such as Neil Farrugia, Gary O’Neill and Conor Davis exited the club at crucial points, while long-serving manager Collie O’Neill departed midway through the campaign, and his successor Maciej Tarnogrodzki also left following their relegation.

A miserable campaign ended with the Students bottom of the table on 19 points, having lost 27 of their 36 matches and finishing with a dire -57 goal difference.

In December, meanwhile, the appointment of Andy Myler was confirmed.

The 44-year-old is a former League of Ireland player, currently 17th on the list of all-time top scorers with 131 goals.

Just as he did his playing career, he is starting out in senior management with UCD, as the club begin a rebuilding process following the disappointment of last year, with a largely new contingent of players set to come through.

“A good season for us would just be being genuinely competitive in the First Division this year,” Myler tells The42. “We’ve a lot of new faces, a lot of young guys. All these young guys at UCD are particularly young this year probably.

“So we’re at the start of another cycle again. If we can end up anywhere from mid-table upwards, we’ll be relatively comfortable with that.

“There’s no internal pressure from the point of view that we need to get promoted, or we have to get promoted. At the start of these things, it’s generally difficult in the first year, you have to build it a little bit. We’ll need to build a squad that has a bit of strength — we’re certainly light. A lot of guys are starting off, you’re never sure if everyone is going to work out. So I’d see us having to build for a year or two for sure.” 

In addition to a number of players moving on to bigger teams, Myler says “bad injuries at bad times” were a factor in their relegation. The club are also somewhat restricted in that they can only play footballers who attend the college as students, even though it can help with team spirit.

You build a squad. Guys are moving through the education side of it at the same time and that will come to a natural end at some point, and it will start again, so I suppose we’re relatively comfortable with that cycle of things. This is just the start of another cycle.”

You could similarly say that Myler himself is at the start of a cycle. He previously worked as a coach alongside Michael O’Neill at Shamrock Rovers and also spent a year managing St Patrick’s Athletic’s U19s side. He completed his A coaching licence, before opting to take a couple of years away from the game to focus on his day job and family commitments.

After five years out of football though, he started to get the itch again.

“I just got back involved with the college teams in UCD. So that sort of gave me a taste and appetite for it again. So when the opportunity came up, I just jumped at it.

“I actually work in UCD as well — Director of Admin Services — so I don’t have far to go for training.”

And finally, with some of the League of Ireland’s brightest talents in recent years having begun their careers at UCD, are there members of the current squad that Myler sees as being potential stars of the future?

“Our captain Jack Keaney is a fantastic player, he’s done it already at League of Ireland level. We’ve got some young guys like Colm Whelan, who is a really good centre forward from Waterford who’s just starting off, and guys like Liam Kerrigan there.

“So there are lots of guys you’ll see in the league playing for a good time to come, I think, once they get a bit of experience under their belts with us.”

Upcoming Premier Division fixtures:

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Upcoming First Division fixtures:

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Paul Fennessy

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