Danny Ledwith takes a light hearted look at his short time with UCD.
Danny Ledwith was ploughing his football furrow for Arklow Town when UCD came knocking. Danny played all his schoolboy football with Arklow, except for one season in Dublin with Shelbourne. The Dublin native could not resist the lure of UCD when Martin Russell came calling. Like so many others in the UCD squad it was a familiar story, “No other club would give me my chance in the Premier Division as quickly as UCD would”, Danny recounts. It was after a friendly game between Arklow Town Schoolboy team and UCD First Team in Belfield that UCD moved quickly and snapped young Ledwith up.
Danny was already enrolled in Carlow IT’s Sports and Exercise, Soccer specific degree course, which obviously prevented him from forming part of the UCD Intervarsity set up. It did not stop him having an impact on it however. Carlow IT were drawn against UCD in the quarter final of the Colleges and Intervarsities earlier this year. Carlow came out on top with Ledwith starring in an impressive performance. In fact Ledwith was involved in a key moment. Running onto a through ball Ledwith was met by UCD custodian, Mark McGinley. Ledwith takes up the story, “He took me out in what the Star described as crazy, ridiculous goalkeeping, sums the poor fella up”. Carlow went on to score the penalty, win the game and ultimately the competition outright.
Danny is used to winning and has represented Ireland at emerging talent and Colleges level as well as picking up a Leinster Youth Cup with Arklow Town. Danny has won many awards in his time but his prized possession is his “Best Banter on the UCD team 2011 award”. In such a close knit group Danny finds it hard to single out a best friend as Samir Belhout, Graham Rusk, Paul Corry and Paul O’Conor come in for particular praise.
On the pitch the relationship between the lads grows stronger with every game. “We know that on our game we can compete with anyone in the top half of the league. It is a question of finding that consistency that will take us to the next level. We just take it one game at a time and try to push forward.”
Danny has been played in a number of positions across midfield and defence and feels his best position is in the centre of midfield. “I love being creative in the middle but I have to say I have really enjoyed playing at left back as well.” Ledwith’s College course gives him a greater understanding of the game he loves and having the UEFA B badge as a requirement has opened Danny up to the coaching side of the game at an early age. The Arklow team will be entertaining us at half time tonight (last Friday night v Drogheda United), so we can all see how big an influence Danny has been.
“We all have to study for and complete the UEFA B licence and it is something I really enjoy. I am coaching a great group of lads with Arklow Town who play at under 11 level.” Rumours that he has brought Hugh Douglas and Dave O’Connor down to the park to show the art of the long ball have not been confirmed but Danny is sure that the licence will only make him a better player, “It definitely gives me a better appreciation”.
On the field Ledwith has tried his hand at almost everything and off it he is no different. Danny claims to hold his own at table tennis, cricket, basketball and golf. “Getting out on the course with some of the lads after an early training session is always great.” With Danny conversation does not stay serious for long as he is quick to highlight Paul Corry’s swing, “It is almost as bad as his right peg!”
The players Danny looks up to are Steven Gerrard and Lionel Messi. Putting Messi and Ronaldo in the same bracket is a faux pas in Ledwith’s book as there is only one winner in that competition. From a personal point of view Ledwith is looking to, “score a few more goals, maybe a free kick...but most of all, beat the first man from a set piece!” Self deprecating humour comes to the fore as he discusses his own hopes for the future and anyone who has witnessed his left foot in action knows it is one of the best in the business.
With every aspect of Ledwith’s sporting life covered it was almost time to go but not before we discussed his shock of red hair. When you are one of the best players in your schoolboy team and your skills draw the attention of UCD’s head coach there is no real benefit to standing out even further, but in a different situation Ledwith’s hair colour can become the source of derision. “When you are trying to waste time with a throw in at the Brandywell at the end of a very tense game, the home fans came come up with some very harsh stuff! Myself and Hughie have weekly counselling sessions to deal with it though so I think we will be ok.”
You can see why the “2011 Banter Award” nestles in his trophy cabinet and with the performances he has put in already this season it is clear for all to see why the rest of the football trophies are there too. Here’s to many more!