By JOHN HUDSON
BARRY PRENDERVILLE, the Soccer Development Manager at Maynooth
University, is anxious to let prospective Leaving Certificate students
both men and women who are also keen football players aware of the
added benefits that Maynooth can offer them should they choose the
university to begin their Third Level studies next September.
At this time of year Leaving Cert students thinking of continuing
their education in a university or college are beginning to seriously
explore their many options ahead of completing the CAO forms.
Prenderville himself as a 16-year-old and already an underage
schoolboy international defender playing with Cherry Orchard left
Ireland in 1998 armed with his Leaving Certificate to pursue his dream
of establishing himself in the cross channel game with Coventry City
having previously declined an offer from Manchester United.
“I had done my Leaving Cert and originally I was meant to sign for
Manchester United but I went to Coventry instead” he explained.
Having failed to make a first team appearance for the Sky Blues he
moved to Edinburgh and a productive spell on loan to Hibernians where
he played 13 games during the 1998 season.
“Hibernians were keen to hold on to me but the clubs failed to agree a
fee for a permanent transfer, so I returned to Coventry” he said.
Coventry eventually released him in 1999 but his form at Hibs earned
him a contract at Ayr United. However Prenderville returned to Ireland
in 1999 and joined St Patrick’s Athletic.
Six months later Prenderville returned to English football and had a
productive spell at Oldham Athletic where he was a consistent squad
member at Boundary Park. Unfortunately financial difficulties affected
the club in 2002 and Prenderville was one of the unlucky players who
He returned to Dublin to link up first with Shelbourne followed by St
Patrick’s Athletic for a second time and finally with Shamrock Rovers
Prenderville then quit playing to become one of the early FAI Football
Facilitators attached to a college or university when he was appointed
to that newly established role in Maynooth University.
“When I took the job at Maynooth I was passionate about
players/students giving themselves the best chance of getting an
education before embarking on a professional football career.
“I still am and that was my main motivation when setting up the soccer
scholarship programme at Maynooth.
Prenderville didn’t take that option himself when he joined Coventry
but nowdays he appreciates how important getting these qualifications
are. While over the years he has successfully obtained his UEFA
coaching badges he is currently attempting to make up some lost
ground by studying for a degree in Sports Psychology and Physical
Prenderville’s foresight in establishing the Soccer Scholarship
programme has transformed both men’s and women’s football at Maynooth
and produced many players who obtained their degrees and went on to
play football at a high level both at home and abroad.
Its an impressive list that includes the likes of Jamie McGrath (St
Mirren), Jake Carroll (Motherwell), Danny Grant (Huddersfield Town),
Sean Hoare (Shamrock Rovers), Conor Kane and Darragh Markey (Drogheda
United), Luke McNally (St Patrick’s Athletic), Amber Barrett (Koln FC)
and former Peterborough United goalkeeper Conor O’Malley.
While the new intake of students who unfortunately have yet to see any
competitive action for the university sides due to the continuing
Covid crisis includes talent players of the calibre of Aaron McCabe
and Callum Worfield (Longford Town), Darragh Ellison (Finn Harps),
Enda Minogue (Bray Wanderers), Kyle Conway and Ugo Anny-Nzekwne (St
Patrick’s Athletic), Promise Omochere (Bohemians), Ryan O’Shea
(Drogheda United), Tumelo Tiou (Athlone Town) and Alex Fitzgibbon
(Maynooth University Town).
The women’s squad will be boosted by the inclusion of newcomers Abbie
Brophy (Bohemians), Breda Cushen (Wexford Youths), Carla McManus (DLR
Waves), Kate McClenaghan (Derry City) and Leah Doyle (Shelbourne).
Over the years Maynooth men’s and women’s sides have managed to become
one of the most consistent performers in Colleges and Universities
The men’s team achieved the holy grail in 2014 by capturing the Irish
Universities Collingwood Cup for the first time ever lead by Sean
Hoare when they defeated NUI Galway in the final at the UCD Bowl.
The following year they were denied their first Colleges and
Universities Premier League title when UCD edged them out 6-5 in a
penalty shoot out after the decider had finished scoreless with 20
minutes extra time played.
In the following years the Maynooth sides while never matching the
previous achievements have always remained competitive in both Third
Level Football’s league and cup competitions.
While the Maynooth women’s side have won their Premier League title in
three of the last six years including a narrow 3-2 defeat to Ulster
University in last year’s final.
It’s also worth noting that the Maynooth University Town club a
successful association between the local Leinster Senior League club
and the university instigated by Prenderville won the FAI Intermediate
Cup in 2018 and managed by Prenderville and Jack Darcy while
continuing to play at the top level of the LSL.
A long time link with the hugely successful Peamount United has also
helped to further the careers of many Maynooth current and graduates
helped by the Peas boss James O’Callaghan taking charge of both the
club and university women’s sides.
A Soccer scholarship at Maynooth will give the player/student the
benefit of continued support in lots of areas like Financial, Sports
Psychology, Physiotherapy and Sports Nutrition.
Access to free gym and top class playing facilities, mentored by a
former Professional plus regular Strength & Condition and Fitness
Testing are also part of the high class programme.
A player on scholarship will also have the benefit of experienced
qualified coaching and a clear pathway to the FAI National League’s
top flight through Maynooth’s long established links with St Patrick’s
Athletic and the current FAI Women’s Senior Cup winners and National
League champions Peamount United.
Access is also available to the highest standard of third level soccer
through participation in the Colleges and Universities Football League
(CUFL), the Irish Universities and Women’s Soccer Colleges Association
Prenderville is keen to stress that application is open to all
regardless of which club they currently play for provided a
prospective applicant achieves the necessary entry points through his
Applicants are required to meet the normal matriculation requirements
and any special course requirements.
In recognition of the competition and training commitments of high
performance athletes, successful soccer scholarship applicants will be
credited with up to CAO 60 points (as required) to assist them get
their Maynooth University course of choice.
Applicants will be expected to have attained at least 300 points in
their best six Leaving Certificate subjects.
Postgraduate applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Scholarships are intended for student-athletes with proven or
perceived potential to perform at a high level.
They are awarded to both under and postgraduate students for a period
of one year, but can be renewed subject to a satisfactory level of
academic and sporting progression being maintained.
To find out more about the scholarship programme you can contact Barry
Prenderville Soccer Development Officer Tel: 086 795 4367 Email:
It’s important to note that the final date for an application is April
1 2021 if you intend applying to study at Maynooth this September
Below is the link to start the application process for September 2021.