The Republic of Ireland Colleges and Universities team celebrated their first-ever international caps presentation at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday during FAI Cup Finals Day.
The team played a number of high profile international fixtures in the 2016-2017 season with thirty players making an appearance for Greg Yelverton’s side. The side contained a mixture of SSE Airtricity League players along with emerging talents from the likes of the Leinster and Munster Senior Leagues. It demonstrates the continuing growth of the game within Third Level which has evolved into the Colleges and Universities Football League. The CUFL has grown from strength to strength in its twelve seasons of existence.
The league currently contains eighty-one teams across five tiers of men’s football along with the twenty-eight women’s teams competing across two divisions in the competition. In 2015, following decades of competing as national representative sides as Colleges and Universities individually, both affiliates agreed, in conjunction with the FAI, upon forming a combined international team to compete at international level.
As a result of this new relationship and its success in its first year, the FAI agreed to award international caps to all players that played for the side and be recognised at the 3 FAI International Player of the Year awards ceremony where Maynooth University’s Paul Rooney was the inaugural winner for 2015-16. Rooney has since gone on to sign for Millwall FC.
Players are becoming more aware of the opportunities on offer at Third Level with the opportunity to further their academic progression and play football at a competitive elite level with the lucrative scholarships available has enticed nearly ninety players from the SSE Airtricity League to continue their education.
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney was in attendance at the event and presented the caps to each player. He would also announce that Head Coach Greg Yelverton has agreed to extend his contract with the team until 2019. The Cork native is also a Football Facilitator with UCC and a current student himself on the UEFA Pro Licence.
Yelverton took up the post in 2015 and led Team Ireland to the World University Games this summer in Taipei. He is looking forward to the next campaign with optimism as he can plan with the bulk of his squad from last season along with some of the best players emerging from the SSE Airtricity League Under 19s and Under 17s.
Colleges and Universities 2016-2017 Squad
Matthew Connor (Waterford IT), Ian Molloy (IT Blanchardstown), Cathal O’Hanlon (UCC), Conor Kearns (UCD) Joe Coll (GMIT Galway).
Ben McAuliffe (UCC), David Brookes (Athlone IT), Gary Kinneen (NUI Galway), Gavin Kearney (DCU), Alan Kehoe (IT Blanchardstown), Eoghan Dempsey (IT Carlow), Mark Slater (Maynooth University), Maurice Nugent (NUI Galway), Ross Taheny (DCU), Sean McLoughlin (UCC), Sean O’Mahony (UCC).
Gareth McDonagh (IT Carlow), Greg Sloggett (UCD), Jamie Hollywood (IT Blanchardstown), Jason McClelland (UCD), Shane Daly-Butz (UCC), Shane Dunne (IT Carlow), Conor Barry (NUI Galway), John McKeown (Maynooth University).
Alan O’Sullivan (DCU), Daire O’Connor (UCD), Daniel Pender (UCC), Jason Lyons (Athlone IT), Garbhan Coughlan (UL), Joe Doyle (Dublin IT).