UCD starlet Ryan Swan soars on European stage
UCD teenager Ryan Swan achieved in one month something that has eluded great players throughout their careers, as he scored three goals in four European games for the Dublin club in their Europa League campaign.
In his debut season in Europe, he even bettered a scoring record achieved over an long career by another Dublin-born striker, his dad Derek, who scored just two goals in European football.
He plays most weeks in the relative anonymity of the First Division but Ryan came back to the national stage this week as he was named as July's player of the month by the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers Association of Ireland, the first time a player from the second tier has won that award in five years.
His manager insists that success on the European scene has not changed the 19-year-old, who scored in both legs for UCD in their Europa League wins over Luxembourg side Dudelange and also in the defeat to Slovan Bratislava.
"There are plenty of players who would have scored three goals in Europe and then walked around smelling themselves thinking that's it, they have made it but he doesn't," UCD boss Collie O'Neill says of Ryan.
"He came back and improved, he's actually a better player now than he was, so fair play to him that he wants to knuckle down, it's constant hard work and he keeps going at it." Swan's jokes of his pride that he's already done better in Europe than his dad, as Derek had a long career in Ireland but managed just two goals in Europe, for Bohemians in 1995 and 1996. "I'm only 19 and I have beaten his record already," Ryan laughed. "It was great to score the goals but I couldn't have done it without the team, they were all great, home and away we had to dig deep and it was brilliant."
"I think the home leg against Dudelange was the highlight, it's not often you see a packed house here and to win the game was brilliant, I think our style of play suited Europe and we excelled ourselves."
Swan's approach is that the summer experience in Europe was a memorable one, but he's keen to put that to one side and get on with the next stage in his career. Playing underage international football is an aim and Swan has certainly gone about that the right way, scoring one of his European goals last Slovan Bratislava's Slovakian international keeper Jan Mucha.
A spell in England (with Port Vale) didn't work out for his dad yet Ryan would like to try his luck abroad, but promotion with UCD is the goal. "Even before the European games, going up was the goal and that's the case still, Europe was a bonus but we want to win the league and get back up to the Premier Division," Swan added, UCD going about that the right way with three straight wins in the league.