UCC Soccer striker Daniel Pender interviewed prior to MSL League Title decider

Ahead of Tuesday’s MSL League Title decider at home to Cobh Wanderers, we caught up with UCC striker Daniel Pender to get his views on the season so far and of course the big game itself!

It’s all down to the last game, safe to say the squad are looking forward to it?

“Yeah we’re all really looking forward to it now. Training has been really good and everyone is buzzing. We’ve had a nice break since our last league match against Rockmount which has allowed us all to rest up after a long season and focus on this big decider. We suffered the disappointment of losing out on the league to Avondale last year on the final day of the season so we know how it feels to lose. Hopefully that can drive us on to win it this year.”

Are you pleased with the season so far?

“It really has been a brilliant season so far. A Collingwood Cup win, a CUFL final and now the league decider. We had a very disappointing start to our league campaign so to be in the position that we are in now is great. Hopefully we can go one step further and win the league.”

What are ye expecting from the final game with Cobh?

“It’s going to be a very tough battle, similar to the match in Cobh earlier in the season. Cobh are a very good, resilient side as you can see from their league and Intermediate Cup run but hopefully we can get the ball down and show what we’re made of on the day.”

Has it been hard to balance so many games with the college this year?

“It’s been very difficult at times to manage it all, especially doing quite a demanding course. We had a number of midweek College University League games along with the Munster Senior League matches and this left us playing 3 matches a week at times. This can be tough but we get great help from people like Greg Yelverton in the sports office to help lighten the load. It’s completely worth the sacrifice to be in the position that we are in now.”

Did you expect the season to go this well?

“I’m not at all surprised really with the talent in our squad. I don’t think anyone can be. It’s difficult to predict how the transition from season to season will go due to the nature of the club with the team continuously changing from year to year. We lost a couple of good players who graduated last year but we also gained some great new ones who came into 1st year in college. We really do have a strong, talented bunch who are always well capable of winning.”

Personally you’ve had a very good season. What were the highlights and are you happy with the year so far?

“Winning the Collingwood Cup was brilliant for the club and it was great to get a couple of goals in the competition. The late winner in the final won’t be forgotten too soon. We had a very good run in the CUFL too getting to the final and beating some brilliant footballing teams along the way. That was a brilliant achievement for us having come from a relegation battle in Athlone only two years previously. It was nice to get a UCC Sports Star award as well as a Southside Sports Star award and it was brilliant recognition for the season I’ve had. They were definitely highlights, as was getting to put on the Irish jersey for the Irish University Soccer team in Limerick.”

Kick-off on Tuesday night is at 19:00 in the Mardyke. Not one to be missed!