AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
Irish-Under 21 international and star performer in the First Division this season, Liam Kerrigan has told BetweenTheStripes.net he is likely to remain at UCD next season despite reported interest from some of Ireland’s leading clubs. It’s been a whirlwind year for the former Sligo Rovers youngster who scored twelve goals in the First Division this season, earned his first international cap at underage level for the Republic of Ireland and on Friday last capped it all off by securing promotion to the Premier Division thanks to a 2-1 win over Waterford FC in the promotion/relegation decider at Richmond Park. Throw a place in the PFAI First Division team of the year into the equation and it’s easy to see why Kerrigan’s name is on the lips of so many at the moment as the league moves into what looks set to be an extremely active winter in terms of transfers and managerial upheaval.
However, speaking to Between the Stripes LOI podcast host Kieran Burke ahead of the show’s season finale this week, Kerrigan as good as nailed his colors to the UCD mast for the start of next season when asked about his immediate future.
“Yes, I think so” was the direct response from Kerrigan when asked if he’ll be at UCD for the start of the 2022 Premier Division campaign with the Students star number 7 going on to add: “I’ve got six months left of the degree, I think it would be a bit silly to go away now and waste the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Making just 25 senior appearances for his native Sligo Rovers after climbing through the underage ranks prior to making a competitive debut in 2018, twenty-one-year-old Kerrigan has spoken of the importance of balancing education with elite-level football and that UCD is the “best place” for him to achieve that at present.
“I took a year out of school after my leaving cert to give the full-time football a go but it was drilled into me from an early age by Mum & Dad that education was important and UCD is the best place where you can do both.”
“From next year, I’ll be able to compete at the highest level in the country and get a really good degree, I think a lot of people believe if you have a plan B you’re not fully focused on plan A (football) but I think (having) plan B has done me no harm because I’m playing my best ever football,” remarked Kerrigan.
Only the ultra-experienced Ryan Brennan and Kerrigan’s UCD & Irish under-21 teammate Colm Whelan have outscored the Sligo native this season in the First Division and the UCD winger was quick to pay tribute to the talents of the former Waterford underage sensation Whelan who put his former side to the sword on Friday.
“Colm’s contribution has been massive, that fella if he gets a sniff of the goal it tends to end up in the back of the net and that’s an unbelievable trait to have,” remarked Kerrigan on the Kilkenny born centre-forward Colm Whelan.
Notching 18 goals this season, Colm Whelan also hit double figures in terms of his assists with 14 accredited to the UCD number 10 in the league this season and that is a stat that did not elude teammate Kerrigan.
“A lot of my goals this year were assisted by him so he’s not just taking the glory and scoring goals himself he’s bringing others into play and he hit double digits in terms of assists,” said Kerrigan who described Whelan as the all-round centre-forward.
With such stats attached to Whelan this season, it should come as no great surprise he is another name being linked with a move to bigger and better things next season with Shamrock Rovers one club said to be very keen on bringing the twenty-one-year-old striker to the Tallaght Stadium in the not so distant future.
However, BetweenTheStripes.net sources understand Whelan is also strongly considering a similar path to Liam Kerrigan in that he may opt to remain at UCD until at least next summer before assessing his options during the mid-season transfer window.
The 2021 season finale of Between the Stripes LOI podcast will be released on Wednesday night and features the full interview with UCD’s Liam Kerrigan among other special guests yet to be announced.
Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts from while you can listen back to all of this season’s episodes via the podcasts tab on site.