UCD goalkeeper Niall Corbet is fast becoming one of the best keepers in the League of Ireland. The 22 year-old from Laois has been the Number 1 for the students since 2015, and has made 60 League appearance for them including last night’s game against Waterford, which finished in a 1-1 draw.
His current manager Collie O’Neill has described him as the best keeper in the league, and when you consider Brendan Clarke, Ger Doherty, Shane Supple, Peter Cherrie, Mark McNulty and Michael Schlingermann also play in the league, that’s very very high praise indeed.
“It’s always great to hear your manager has full confidence in you. However, I know there are plenty of top class keepers in the league. I’m just concentrating about gaining confidence from playing week to week.”
“I’m currently in my 5th year now in UCD. This year I decided to do a Masters Degree in Food Strategy Business so I will be finished up in August with college work”, said Corbet when asked about his studies.
We asked him about his ambitions in the game, “Ambitions in the game for me are to play at the highest level possible. You have to strive to be the best player in your position at the best level, at least in my opinion.”
He has been linked with a move away from the club when his studies finish. We asked him if a move abroad was a better option than a move to another League of Ireland club, and he said “To be honest I don’t look into that stuff to much. For me it’s about playing games weekly and if something happens from that, then great. But concentration is on getting UCD back to the premier league.”
He played in the Europa League in 2015 with UCD, where they played F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg and Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava. They beat Dudelange on away goals before succumbing to Bratislava 6-1 on aggregate. Corbet said, “The Europa league was easily one of the highlights of my career so far. To gain that experience at such a young age has hugely influenced my career, and it makes you want to experience that every year.”
He managed to get himself sent off once in his short career, and he laughs now when he thinks back on it, “Hahah, yeah a fellow Laois man took a big dive in the box. I remember it was a long ball over the top, I got caught in no mans land and Chris knock it passed me and ran into me. I suppose he left the ref with no choice, but from my point of view I just stood there he made the contact with me.”
We spoke Collie O’Neill about his young keeper, and he said, “Niall is an exceptional goal keeper. As long as I’ve known him he has always been a great shot stopper, which came to the fore during our Europa League run, but in the last few seasons he’s started to command his area.”
“He’s become a lot more vocal and he’s the best kicker of a ball I’ve seen. He’s worked really hard with our top-class goal keeping coach Ger Barron and in my view, he’s the best goal keeper in the league of Ireland.”
Speaking about Barron, we asked Niall who had been a big influence in his career, and he was very quick to praise the goal-keeping coach saying, “Gerry Barron has been a major influence on my career, and really helped me get to where I am now. Ive been working with him now for over four years.”
“It’s great to have a young goal-keeping coach that listens to his keepers, and will always mix up sessions. We never repeat any sessions and he is always bring in a new aspect he is learning into our sessions. You often see all sorts of extra bits in our sessions, from tennis balls to inflated dummies.”
“With the way UCD play we always do that extra bit on distribution and playing out. You really have to be comfortable with the ball at you’re feet at UCD.”
He has also played under Cabinteely Manager Pat Devlin, and we asked him about that, Niall said, “Pat was with us for the last two years. He plays a very much no risk policy, but also wants you to express yourself going forward. Pat has the mix of a players man, but also tells you how it is.”
On his current coach he said, “Collie has been great to me. He gave me my chances three years ago. He is very much a believer in total football. Collie lets his players have an input and listens to you. He lets his players have a voice which you really don’t get in the game these days. He’s a very bright young coach that gets the best out of his players.”
We asked him about how the season is going so far and he said, “It’s been a mixed start, probably dropped points where we should have won and robbed a few in the other direction. So I think it’s been a fair start.”
“We know it will be very difficult to get promoted this year, as our oldest player is myself and I’m only 22. So we just take games as they come because in this league anyone could beat anyone.”
“For me it’s about doing what it takes to help the young players around me and getting the team back to the top league. Obviously we have targets set as a back 5 and we believe we are improving weekly as a unit.”
“This is my third season now playing week in and week out. I suppose as a young keeper you just want to play games, and every game throws up different curve balls, pardon the pun, that you can learn from. So for me, I’ve had the chance to play regularly and gain confidence. Year on year I feel like I have improved and I hope it continues for years to come.”