Uhl has the Midas touch when it comes to UCC soccer, as GER McCARTHY found out
CONOR Uhl and UCC won’t rest on their laurels.
The Cork college has just won a third Rustlers IUFU Collingwood Cup in five years but already have turned their attention towards the Munster Senior League.
Former West Cork Schoolboys League coach Uhl is assistant manager with the UCC team that now wants to add the league title to their trophy cabinet.
It’s a very competitive MSL this season and UCC are three points off the top. There are a number of teams in with a shout of winning the title with ten points between first and second last placed clubs.
‘Our ambition, as always, is to try and win the Munster Senior League title,’ Uhl says.
‘Midleton claimed the trophy last year and it is a tough league to win. Playing regular, competitive games, week in and week out definitely benefits our players and is what makes the MSL such an enjoyable league to be a part of.
‘We are about to embark on a very busy schedule of matches with league games and an important Intermediate Cup tie coming up. UCC will be away to Maynooth Town in the quarter-finals as well as a CUFL semi-final against IT Carlow.’
Former Ardfield striker Uhl has enjoyed plenty of success as a coach with UCC, including winning two Munster Senior League titles.
West Cork’s influence on this year’s Collingwood Cup success wasn’t limited to Uhl, as former Skibbereen star Owen Collins also played an important on-field role in returning the trophy to Cork.
The most prestigious third level competition in the country saw UCC defeat DCU 2-1 in the quarter-finals and UCD 1-0 to reach the 2019 decider. In the final against the University of Limerick, Simon Falvey scored UCC’s equaliser that forced extra-time. Penalties looked likely until Player of the Tournament Robert Sleven headed home the winner a minute from the end.
‘Winning three of the last five Collingwood Cups is a fantastic achievement whichever way you look at it,’ Uhl says.
‘I’ve been involved in each of those and was lucky enough to win a fourth whilst working with John Caulfield (current Cork City manager) back in 2011 as well. It is a really prestigious competition to win and the three-day nature of it is what makes the Collingwood so special and unique. That means it is the best squad that gets you through it and not necessarily the best team.’Uhl gained plenty of experience from his time playing in the West Cork League before making a name for himself coaching the West Cork Schoolboys League at Inter-League and Kennedy Cup level. Yet, the UCC assistant manager is quick to heap praise on the experienced management team around him.
‘Noel Healy is UCC manager again this season and somebody I have worked closely with throughout the last few years of my coaching career,’ Uhl says.
‘Noel took over from John (Caulfield), having been assistant for a few years so he and I have looked after the squad since then. Winning three Collingwood Cups and two Munster Senior League titles in the last five years has made it a very worthwhile experience.’
‘We have been lucky enough to win a good few trophies with the college and involved with some terrific players along the way. My role is that of assistant manager, getting involved in team selections, running most of the training sessions as the first team coach along with Mick Conroy.
‘It is a very good and experienced backroom team that also includes David O’Connor from the Mardyke Arena. David is the squad’s strength and conditioning coach and his dedicated work has definitely brought the players to a higher level of performance.’
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