'We set out to stifle Derry and played with no fear': UCD boss
UCD manager, Collie O’Neill admitted he had set his young side out to stifle and frustrate Derry City as the students arrived on Foyleside intent on clinching their first points on the road this season.
O’Neill claimed afterwards he didn’t realise the point gained on the night was his side’s first away from home in 2019 but said it made the result all the more special that they achieved that feat at Brandywell.
And he was delighted to see his team play with no fear against a Derry team who went into the game high on confidence and building momentum after a six match unbeaten run.
“I didn’t realise that was our first point away from home but to come here and do it makes the result even bigger,” said the UCD boss. “We rode our luck at times, we really did,” he accepted. “We worked extremely hard and the workrate and commitment I cannot fault.
“Obviously the harder you work the luckier you get and that’s what happened tonight.
“We set out to try and stifle them. My priority here was a clean sheet. We set out to make it really hard for them to break us down and for the most part we did that.
"We just suffered from one v one defending in wide areas and defending of crosses but that’s just lack of experience and the guys will get better as we go on.
"For me, a simple ask of all my players is no fear. That takes courage, especially if you've gone and given the ball away once and you're away from home. Have you got the courage to get on the ball again and be comfortable on it and look after it and look to get into space and constantly keep that ball. That's the one thing I always ask of our players and they did that pretty well."
"That takes courage, especially if you’ve gone and given the ball away once and you’re away from home. Have you got the courage to get on the ball again and be comfortable on it and look after it and look to get into space and constantly keep that ball. That’s the one thing I always ask of our players and they did that pretty well.”
Following a monumental victory over relegation rivals, Finn Harps the previous weekend, the result against the Candy Stripes, which lifted the Dubliners off the foot of the table on goal difference, will have given them huge confidence as they look to make the relegation/promotion play-off spot their own.
“I think the win last week gave us that extra boost and with Jack Keaney coming in during the week it’s added an extra bit of energy to the group.
“Things are looking a bit more positive and hopefully we can get enough points to get that play-off spot.
“Even the lads on the bench are chomping at the bit to get some game experience so at least I now have some competition for places.
“So that adds a little bit more bite in training and hopefully it will help drive us on and get us those points we need.”
Much was made of UCD’s decision to play League One club, Portsmouth who handed out an 11-0 drubbing at the Belfield Bowl 48 hours previously, so close to Friday’s trip to Derry. However, O’Neill claimed his side’s sole focus was on getting a result at Brandywell.
“I did not give a rat’s ass about that game on Wednesday. My priority was here tonight.
The whole second half of that game on Wednesday was our U17s and U19s. I didn’t care less about that game. This was a priority. Our survival is a priority and hopefully if we continue the way we’re going we could be okay,” he concluded.