“This was always going to be my last year, I wanted everyone to know that I was going to leave.” Belfield has certainly witnessed better seasons in the top division, in truth, it has probably never witnessed such a poor one. From forgetful scorelines to withering attendances, it’s been a season of grief for Andy Myler and UCD AFC.

With the departure of UCD from the premier division, manager Myler’s exit followed suit. Appointed back in December of 2019 as boss of the blues, Myler led his side back into the bright lights of Irish football as UCD earned promotion from the first division at the close of the 2021 season.

Further success followed Myler in the subsequent campaign as UCD would best Waterford FC for the second year in a row in the relegation playoff, seeing Myler’s men secure another year-long fight for survival in the premier division.

Unfortunately, there was no fairytale plot written for this season as UCD’s faith was confirmed rather early in the season. In the end, just eleven points were tallied throughout the season, the second-lowest tally in UCD’s premier division history.

The College Tribune spoke with departing gaffer Andy Myler after announcing his decision to leave the club at the close of this season.

Despite being a tough verdict to come to, leaving his post as UCD manager was a call that had to be made for Myler;

“It’s a time thing, that’s all it is. It’s fairly intense to be honest, almost full-time at times. The way football is going, I’m just far too busy for it, I had to say ‘Listen, I’ll have to step away’.”

Myler won’t step too far away from the green fields of the Clonskeagh-side of campus however, in fact, he won’t even leave the gates of UCD, continuing in his role as Director of Estates Operations & Services in the college.

“I’ll still be in the Bowl on plenty of Friday nights and I’ll still have the responsibility of keeping a nice pitch! I won’t step away completely as far as not going to matches and so on, I love it too much.”
Myler’s presence will always prove welcome at UCD’s footballing headquarters, being a former player and product of the UCD talent machine himself.

Having no doubt that the cogs will remain in operation for seasons to come, Myler explains why UCD fans should not fear for future campaigns, despite the poor showing this year;

“We have a really good recruitment system here, people probably knew [at the start of this season] that we’d be playing first-division football next season. Lads understand the cycle.”

Understanding the cycle is one thing, but accepting it is another. Season to season, crucial squad players will seek a greater challenge elsewhere, be it in the League of Ireland or beyond. After all, no one’s footballing goals sees them staying in South Dublin.

The latest of such importance to leave the blue and yellow behind is long-term captain Jack Keaney, it is yet unclear where Keaney plans to go, but his absence will be felt in UCD nonetheless. Myler touches on the alternating nature of UCD’s squad and the awkwardness of relying on incoming youth players;

“Player departures definitely make it more difficult [to manage]. You could get three young midfielders in when you need a centre-forward, it’s difficult in that way. Players that left last season like Whelan, Kerrigan, Duffy, that’s what the club is about. I never get too frustrated.”

The above-mentioned and their attacking prowess were certainly missed this season, with UCD managing just 19 goals and conceding 96 at the other end. Myler reflects on the season gone by;

“It was a really tough season, we had a lot of bad luck throughout, injuries and so on, they are excuses but it was very difficult for us. You just have to move on and we know that. It is tough on the lads, some really tough results, it’s really tough on them. For the young lads coming through, it’ll be hardest on them. They’ll all just have to regroup and go again in the first division next season.”

Leaving the gig in the very capable hands of his assistant manager William O’Connor, former FAI U18s boss, Myler speaks highly of his successor;

“He’ll be fantastic, a really good coach with really good ideas. He’s been there with me the last couple of seasons. Knows all about the club, knows the players. He’ll come into being a really good manager down the line with the team.”

For Myler though, through the stress of it all, lies an evident love for the game of football, and more specifically a healthy addiction to this little aul’ club.

“I’ll miss being on the pitch on matchdays, the football part of it all. I’m honestly a bit of a nerd for it, if I’m not watching my own team, I’m watching it on the telly or in the Aviva. But most of all, I’ll miss those Friday nights with the team.”

Dara Smith-Naughton – Sports Editor