A few weeks into his return to the club, Dave McMillan told Ryan Bailey how its all going
A year and a half after leaving the club, fans favourite David McMillan has returned to Belfield and made an instant impact as he aims to recreate the success he experienced during his first spell with The Students.
The 23-year-old won two Collingwood Cups, two League of Ireland “A” Championships and a First Division title during his three years at UCD and inevitably the Templeogue native looks back on his first spell at the club with fond memories.
“I had an incredible few years with the club as we won numerous trophies. Beyond the success on the pitch though, there is a great group of staff and players here that make it a dream for any young player trying to break into the League of Ireland.”
McMillan began his footballing career at UCD when he started studying Architecture in the college and as he explained, he had aspirations of competing at the highest level from the outset.
“I began in the Leinster Senior League team under Diarmuid McNally. My brother, Evan, had played in the same side two years previous and had managed to make the step up to the senior side under Pete Mahon so I had similar aspirations when I started out in the LSL.”
With UCD newly relegated to the second tier, David broke into the first team and played a key part as The Students bounced straight back, lifting the First Division title. He scored 12 goals during the campaign in what was a very competitive league, only won on the second last day of the season in Athlone.
“That was certainly a highlight of my time here. We competed against some really top teams in Shelbourne, Sporting Fingal and Waterford. I think Fingal went on to win the FAI Cup that year which just shows how the strong the First Division was. It was my first year being a regular in the first team, which was the same for the majority of the squad as well, which made it all the more sweeter.”
After putting in more eye catching performances the following season in the Premier Division, UCD had a tough task trying to keep hold of McMillan and in January 2011 he joined St. Patrick’s Athletic before going onto make 26 appearances for the Saints. He says it was a difficult decision to make.
“I had to give it some time before deciding to move on, it was a very difficult decision. I had a year break from study and felt it was the right time to take the opportunity to compete at the top end of the league.”
After a season at Pats, Dave left Inchicore to pursue his third level studies in Australia, joining Olympic FC in the Brisbane Premier League. He missed the opening fixtures in the season awaiting international clearance but went on to score three goals in six matches.
“I had made the decision to leave a month or so before the end of last season. I was on Erasmus studying for my degree and it was something I had always intended on doing. I knew I could play over there at a reasonable level so I just went for it, knowing that I could come back in July and sign for a club here during the transfer window.”
After speaking to a number of clubs on his return, the striker felt a return to Belfield was the best move and in July he completed his move to Martin Russell’s side.
“Martin was the most determined to sign me and that suited me perfectly considering I'm studying here for another year. I’m delighted to be back. I've had a few weeks to find my feet again and regain my match fitness but I'm hungry now to start delivering some good performances and some goals to move us up the league away from the play-off spot.”
Despite UCD picking up their first away victory of the season last week at Shelborune, The Students still find themselves bottom of the league but have closed the gap on Dundalk and Bray and McMillan believes it’s only a matter of time before the club begin to climb the table.
“Not a lot has changed here to be honest. Some of the coaches have changed and a few new players but the goals for the side are still the same. We continue to try and develop as a team and individuals and we know that the best place to do that is in the Premier Division. The mood in the camp is good. The players are obviously frustrated as they feel they are not getting the points that their performances deserve. It’s a very competitive league this year and there are no easy points. I think we need to take more responsibility as players to ensure we begin to pick up points and move off the bottom of the league.”
Dave scored his first goal since his return in the 1-0 win over Shels last weekend, and he hopes more goals are on the way. “It was great to get off the mark after a couple of games without a goal, it’s all about confidence so hopefully I can kick on from here.”
McMillan starts his final year of his degree in September and he admits he doesn’t know what the future holds in terms of his footballing career.
“I feel I'm at a bit of a crossroads at the moment. I finish my degree next May (hopefully!) and am here until then so what happens beyond that is a bit of an unknown. My aims would just be to progress as much as I can and become the best player I can. Where that takes me I don't know right now.”
Tonight sees the start of the final set of fixtures in this year’s Airtricity League and Cork City make the trip to Belfield and David knows all the remaining games will be very tough.
“Cork have some really top LOI players with mountains of experience. Players like Colin Healy, Dan Murray and Danny Murphy have won everything there is to win in this league so it will be a great test for us as a bunch of young players aiming to emulate some of that success.”
Fact-File This or That
Name: David McMillan Computer or TV: Computer
DOB: 14/12/1988 Snickers or Mars: Snickers
From: Templeogue, Dublin Walk or Run: Run
Height: 5'11'' Summer or Winter: Summer
Weight: 74 kg Call or Text: Call
Squad number: 23 Coffee or Tea: Tea
Former clubs: St Pats, Olympic FC The Simpsons or Family Guy: The Simpsons
Boots: Adidas Predators Dark Chocotale or White Chocolate: White
Boot size: 9.5 7up or Sprite: 7up
Favourite LOI ground: Turner's Cross Steam room or Sauna: Sauna