Sunday 4 December 2016

Collie O'Neill ready for battle as students look for historic win

DUCD v Slovan Bratislava (slovan lead 1-on agg)

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Scattered around the walls of dressing room 4 in the Belfield Bowl are penants, photos, and plagues of UCD's most historic nights. Collie O'Neill wants to add to that.

Trailing 1-0 on aggregate in their UEFA Europa League second qualifying round tie with Slovan Bratislava, The Students are in high spirits ahead of the return clash in front of their own supporters.

If they were to progress, the SSE Airtricity League First Division outfit would be guaranteed at least €630,000 in UEFA prize money. Although it's a chance to make history that is truly motivating the players.

"We've already proved a lot of people wrong, but we know how tough it is going to be. I think Slovan Bratislava probably underestimated us a little bit but I don't think they are going to underestimate us [tonight]," said O'Neill.

"We have to score, so we can't be too defensive. Our plan worked for what we set out to do last week but this is a different game, this is our home patch, and we'd like to take the game a little bit more to Slovan."

Lessons were learned from last week's first leg in the Slovakian capital and UCD captain Robbie Benson insists they know what to expect tonight. It's why he is not fearing their heavily-favourited opponents.

Even more than that, however, Benson admitted that tonight's game can put the small Dublin club firmly on the radar of Europe's elite clubs. A win can change perceptions about them.

"Every week we play here in the Bowl, we put on a show. We play the game in the right way and it would be great if more people got out to support us on a regular basis," said Benson.

UCD are likely to stick with the same line-up even though Ryan McLaughlin is making good progress on his return from injury, while the visitors are expected to start striker Adam Zrel'ak.

ucd v slovan bratislava (Slovan lead 1-0 on agg)

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