AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
Much like Longford Town last season, the play-off winners UCD are already everybody’s favourites for relegation even without a ball being kicked in 2022. Andy Myler’s side not only won promotion last season but plenty of plaudits and admirers along the way with both Liam Kerrigan and Colm Whelan earning recognition at international under-21 level thanks to their performances with the College.
The fact the Students have been able to hold onto those two star players is a victory in itself (although they’ll probably move on in the summer) and it will be crucial they make hay while the sun shines and get as many points on the board as possible up until the summer to give themselves some sort of fighting chance at survival.
Sadly, UCD did lose the criminally underrated Paul Doyle, a man they will miss greatly in the centre of the park and on set-piece duty as well.
Nobody scored more goals in the First Division than UCD last season but only the bottom four shipped more at the back which is a hugely worrying statistic when stepping up to Premier Division level.
There’s no doubt UCD have the quality in the final third to trouble even the meanest of Premier Division defences but we saw how Longford Town’s lack of top-flight experience and senior experience in general plagued them in pressured moments throughout the season and you’d have to fear a similar outcome for UCD this season.
BTS PREDICTION: Bottom
STAR PERFORMER: Liam Kerrigan (A future full Irish international)
ONE TO WATCH: Colm Whelan (Hardly an unknown quantity at this point but anyway).
For more build-up to the 2022 League of Ireland season, tune in to Between the Stripes LOI podcast’s 2022 Pre-Season Special here.