UCD ‘delighted’ to book place in Uefa Youth League
Club will learn opponents on Tuesday after qualifying thanks to favourable results
The Uefa Youth League features 64 teams from around Europe. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
UCD will discover on Tuesday who they will face in the first round of the Uefa Youth League after a combination of favourable results in the final round of Champions League qualifiers handed the Dublin club a spot in the competition.
A total of 64 clubs participate in the competition with the youth teams of the 32 clubs that qualify for the Champions League gaining automatic entry along with 32 national champions from the highest-ranked countries across Europe. Where a club qualifies both ways, they enter the Champions League side of things and a side from a lower ranked league gains a place.
This side of the competition is played on a knockout basis and UCD will initially play another national champion home and away, most likely on the Wednesdays of the second and third Champions League weeks. In the event that they get through two rounds they would play a runner-up from a group in the other half of the competition after which the group winners would enter for the last 16 proper.
“It’s great news,” said club secretary Richard Shakespeare, “I got a text last night to say the Maribor result [they beat Hapoel Beer Sheva to qualifying for the group stages of the senior competition] had gotten us over the line. We’re delighted; it’s a testament to the work the club has been doing at youth level over the last few years and it’s a bonus that we weren’t left hanging on to see how the second night’s game went.”
Cork City became the first Irish club to participate in the competition last year when they beat HJK of Finland in the first round before losing to Roma in the second.
“It’s an exciting time for the club and most importantly for the players to have a chance to compete with the best players from other countries,” said the team’s manager Maciej Tarnogrodzki. “We’ve been training very hard this season with hours put in on the training pitch very similar to the professional academies across Europe. Our season has been good so far and we’ll prepare well for the Youth League matches.”