A new feaeture for the website, 'On The Bench' profiles a different member of our backroom staff each week
Dave Clancy is our head physiotherapist, but he’s not just an ordinary physio, he stands at a massive 6 foot 5, is a Dublin basketball All-Star and has represented Ireland at Underage International Basketball level in the UK and America.
Born in Limerick, Dave lived in Montreal from 4th class to 2nd year and then moved back home. He studied in Carlow, Stoke and Dublin, where he have lived for the last three years. (He likes to think of himself as a Dub now... but we just won’t have it!)
He has played basketball since he was 8, and played for Blanchardstown side Coolmine last season and was even a player-coach for a while so Martin Russell better watch out!
It’s been a long road from Limerick to Canada, the UK and now Dublin, with lots of study and exams for Dave to get to where he is now. He has also worked with Trinity College rugby and UCD GAA.
He studied Physiology and Health Science in Carlow I.T, before completing the under-graduate physiotherapy degree in Keele University in the UK and MSc in Sports Medicine in Trinity College Dublin.
The reason Dave chose this path was to work at this level of professional sport: “The MSc was something I thought would help elevate me in the competitive professional field of elite sports medicine and physiotherapy.”
Dave arrived at UCD AFC by chance in 2010 when he was asked to cover a few training sessions for a colleague and we haven’t been able to get rid of his since! When asked to define what he job consists of, he was, as ever to the point.
“I have to Assess, restore, improve, maintain, educate, recondition, and manage.”
Every young lad wants to play professional football, but for Dave it’s all about the work in the medical room despite the everyday pressures of the job.
“It is a very satisfying, fulfilling and challenging job .There are pressures from players, management and other medical staff to get players fit and healthy but this is my passion in the sphere of
physiotherapy. If I wasn't working in the League of Ireland I could envisage myself involved in the All Ireland Rugby League, or perhaps provincial rugby.”
Dave knew nothing about the League of Ireland when he first came into the league two and a half years ago, but now breathes it daily. He looks back fondly on our friendly against Spanish La Liga side Villareal last summer:
“The festival atmosphere when we hosted the Spanish armada known worldly as Villareal. We beat them in an exciting 4-3 encounter, which perhaps precipitated the demise of the Spanish club. They have been subsequently relegated, having been up until recently a perennial champions league outfit.”
Speaking about what has so far been a difficult season for Martin Russell’s ‘Boys In Blue’ results wise, Dave firmly believes the club can avoid relegation:
“We have the talent in the spine of the team to stay in the top flight, but hard work and determination is what will make the real difference- belief in our ability is of paramount importance., and a higher conversion of chance-goal would help. We will stay up!”
If Dave’s career pathway hadn’t led him to UCD, he says he would be an impressionist artist, a strength and conditioning guru, or self-made entrepreneur like Richard Branson.
Last year we saw the harrowing scenes of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapse on the pitch and have a cardiac arrest, and only for the live saving work by medics pitch side, he would not be alive today.
This is the most serious part of Dave and club doctor Colm’s job.
“Sports medicine specialists and field physiotherapists have to have trained in sports traumatology and first aid/ CPR. We also have access to St Johns’ Ambulance on standby at each home match, as well as a defibrillator nearby in case of a cardiac event.”
The job is not for the feint hearted as Dave has once had to re-set a dislocated shoulder on a pitch during a rugby match prior to muscle spasm kicking in. Lucky he’s not squeamish!
He also gets to see the funnier side of some of the injuries he has to treat as with goalkeeper John Kelly’s ‘Mallet finger.’
An understanding of what an injured player is going through is crucial for the job that Dave does, and he has had his fair share of serious injuries too.
Traumatic myositis ossificans in his thigh, a broken wrist, patellar tendonitis, severe knee twisting
injuries (surfing), and a shoulder labral problem.
When asked who the bitchiest player in the UCD AFC dressing room is and who is on his treatment bed the most, Chris Lyons, Tom O’Halloran and Ciaran Nangle were all mentioned.
Like League of Ireland players, and staff, Dave has his sights set of professional football further afield. When I asked him about working in the Premier League in England, he said: “Yes, that has become an ambition as of late.” Don’t leave us yet Dave!!