By Pearse McGrath
Since the 1970s the UCD Super league has been a staple of college life for Dublin-based amateur football players.
Sometimes referred to as “The Hangover League”, the skill level varies from semi-pro players to those who can’t manage five minutes on the pitch without the previous night’s Guinness making an appearance.
The Super league consists of four amateur groups of teams split up into Saturday and Sunday ‘A’ and ‘B’ leagues.
In total, there are usually well over 50 teams across the four leagues each year. Although an ever shifting pool of players makes it impossible to estimate the number of players who play each year, the figure is likely in the four digit range.
Most of the team members tend to be in the college age range, but there are teams consisting of both older and younger players with no minimum or maximum age range being enforced, once one member of the team has a UCD student card.
The Super league is well known for it’s less-than-serious nature with team names such as Seshfield Wednesday and Marseille It Ain’t So being some of the tamer examples of the infamous names of the teams involved in the league. Some of the raunchier team names have attracted attention from outlets such as The Sun and BBC Radio.
The score lines of the games also have a tendency to be eye-catching to say the least – with the last batch of fixtures featuring scores of 9-1, 7-1 and 8-3. In fact double digit score lines probably occur about as often as clean sheets.
While the leagues are far from professional and any prizes are next to non-existent, this doesn’t mean that there is no interest in the league. In fact, a 2 hour and 30 minute long live stream uploaded on the UCD AFC channel of last summer’s final garnered well over 1,000 viewers.
The league is a great way for groups of friends to play together, as well as an opportunity to meet new people with a similar interest to yourself – every year there are a good number of people left without a team who get put onto teams of their own.
Diarmuid McNally, who has organised the competition every year since 2001 after competing as a student in the late 80’s, told Dublin.ie in 2017 that “every year we have about 70 people with no team who want to play, so we make up a few teams from that pool,” he said. “I’ve bumped into people years later, and they’re still friends.”
“It’s brilliant to see it’s still so popular,” McNally said. “What’s great is that it’s not elite; it’s for everyone and anyone.”
Anyone who has played in the Super league will have a number of anecdotes on anything from the often less than stellar referring to the occasional fights that break out.
Daniel Gough, who plays in the Saturday B-League for The Hill FC, told The City about some of his experiences playing in the league.
“Most of the refs wouldn’t be great to be fair, some are alright but the standard is pretty bad overall. I can’t blame them though, you can’t expect the quality to be that good when they’re just doing it for a bit of extra cash.”
“There does be a fair few fights in the games, mostly between teammates,” Gough continued, “I ended up getting in a bit of a scrap with my goalkeeper a few weeks back after giving away a penalty, it just happens sometimes. The tensions can run a little high in any football team so little fights like that are fairly common.”
Gough’s teammate Ian Connaughton talked about the standard of the league, saying, “it’s a pretty big range from some decent teams to some absolutely shocking teams. I’m not lying when I say one of the teams we played is the worst football team I’ve ever seen playing a game. We ended up winning 5-1 or something like that and that was being generous to them.”
There seems to be no signs of the super league slowing down in terms of its popularity, so it seems like it will remain an integral part of student life for many years to come.