Students in at deep end
UCD will field one of the youngest teams in the club's history when they take on Lisburn Distillery on the opening night of the 2011 domestic season tonight.
But even though the Students have been forced to kick off their season way ahead of schedule at Dalymount Park -- UCD were parachuted into the Setanta Cup just last week to replace the now-defunct Sporting Fingal -- manager Martin Russell says that his youthful side will relish the challenge.
UCD had planned to start the season with a league game -- against Fingal -- in 19 days but instead they are filling in for Fingal in the Setanta Cup, not an ideal way to prepare with so little time, but Russell believes that the early start is a positive for his club.
"I suppose it's not ideal, having to play your first competitive game nearly three weeks earlier than planned but being in the Setanta Cup will be great for the club and for our players," said Russell.
"It is a challenge for our players to take on a side like Lisburn Distillery, who are more than half-way through their season and at full fitness, especially as we have such a young side.
"We lost quite a few players from last season's first team squad and we'll have a lot of scholarship players in the team. This is possibly the youngest team that UCD has ever had in a major competition, so that throws up challenges too."
It's a sign of the close-season problems for UCD that six of the 11 which started in the final game of last season have left Belfield for other clubs (Brian Shortall, Chris Mulhall, Greg Bolger, Ciaran Kilduff, Evan and David McMIllan) while five others from the 2010 squad (Andy Boyle, Dwayne Wilson, Karl Moore, Keith Ward and Billy Brennan) have also left.
A tight budget, and also the emergence of some top class youngsters from UCD's scholarship scheme, means that Russell has done little shopping on the transfer market with only three senior players signed.
Spanish defender Yael Haro and midfielder Darren Meenan join after a spell with Drogheda United last season while former Sligo Rovers man Dean Marshall has come from Athlone Town.
BOHEMIANS have been forced to rearrange their Setanta Sports Cup game against Portadown next Monday.
Pat Fenlon's side had been due to play their first game of 2011 at home to Portadown in the Setanta Sports Cup but the IFA have fixed an Irish Cup replay against H&W Welders for that night so the Setanta game will be rearranged.
That will give Pat Fenlon some breathing space in his bid to assemble a squad - Bohs have so far not signed any new players though Fenlon was hoping to complete some signings today.