Capacity: 3,000 (Seats 1,500)
Address: Sports Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4
Telephone: 01 716 2142
Pitch Size: 100 x 60 yards
Pitch Type: Grass
Club Nickname: The Students
Year Ground Opened: 2007
Undersoil Heating: No
Home Kit: Sky and Dark Blue
The UCD Bowl is located on the University College Dublin campus, which is situated two miles south of Dublin City Centre, The UCD Bowl has been in use by since 2007, with the UCD Rugby Club being the first users of the ground. At this time UCD Football Club were playing at their own ground known as Belfield Park, which was to the far south of the campus. The ground actually had a larger capacity than the UCD Bowl of today, with its pitch length Main Stand benefiting from a set of green plastic seats following the closure and demolition of the old Lansdowne Road ground (now the Aviva Stadium). These seats didn’t get much use however as the football club then moved in with the Rugby Club at the UCD Bowl. Belfield Park was subsequently demolished and replaced by a research and training building.
With fortunes on the pitch improving and the team in line for a promotion to the Premier Division the stadium’s capacity was increased to meet UEFA licensing standards and these changes are what we see today. Entering the ground through one of the open doorways to the sides of the toilet block we emerge close to the centre line of the pitch at the top of the Main Stand seating deck. The concrete deck is effectively built into a grass bank, 15 rows of one-piece blue plastic seats lead us down the gangway to pitch side. The Main Stand originally opened with a covered seating deck of 750 seats. The seating deck was extended out to the left and right wings when the football club moved in, however the roof has yet to follow suit. Looking at the Main Stand now there are now 1500 seats on total, though their original royal blue colour has faded to sky blue since being installed (rather convenient since they now match the club colours) and though it is disappointing to see a stand of this length have such large supporting columns for its roof, the Main Stand itself has some nice individual touches, such as the UCD campus crest printed on the rear walls. The seating deck is flanked by grass banks leading down towards both ends, giving the whole side a nice balanced symmetry. Both East and West Ends of the stadium have a similar appearance and both are sheltered by an attractive row of pine trees. The access pathways lead uphill to exit gates on the far corners of the north side of the ground. The vast gently sloped grass bank itself on the north side of the ground backs onto the tree-lined border of University Lodge, and has a variety of wooden out-buildings which merge pleasingly well with its woodland setting. There is a television gantry and a pair of dug outs on the pitch centre line with the tree-lined grass banking seemingly a fantastic setting to chill out watching a game on a summer’s evening. The ground is complimented by a set of eight pitch side floodlight pylons.
Looking at the UCD Bowl as a whole the stadium fits perfectly within its modern surroundings and although it currently lacks the character and matchday atmosphere of the likes of Dalymount Park or Richmond Park it probably also has far lower running costs. Having a stadium which is a no thrills no high bills and perfectly sized for the level of support should be seen as prudent planning.
The UCD Bowl is currently one of the smallest grounds in the Premier Division however it does have a vast amount of scope for future re-development on both the north bank side of the ground and extending the wings and roof of the Main Stand to full pitch length. The ground at present is able to accommodate league attendances only qualification for European fixtures would require an expansion of the seating capacity. For the record, given that UCD’s players are a combination of current studying students and full-time professional players a good run in the league or qualification for Europe may seem unlikely but it has happened before-most noticeably in 1984 when winning the FAI Cup paired them with Everton in the European Cup Winners Cup. Remarkably, over the two-leg tie only a single goal separated the two teams. Should lightning strike twice it would perhaps be fitting if UCD Football Club were finally able to play the tie at their own home ground.
Away fans are allocated the left-hand side of the Main Stand on the far side of the turnstiles. There is a doorway beyond the toilets which will lead you into the top of the seating deck, with a block of 375 uncovered seats to the left, and a block of 375 seats to your right under the stand roof. Fans sitting in these seats from the 3rd row to the top may find the columns impede the view of the pitch. Beyond the disabled enclosure, a flight of steps leads down to pitch side, presumably to allow those who like to stand to watch a game access to the flat standing areas behind the left-hand goal and the tea hut on the grass bank close to the far corner post. Best to check with stewards if you are allowed to stand in these areas on a matchday. UCD are known to be a very family orientated club so you should expect a warm welcome and a relaxed visit.
There is a student bar further south on the UCD Campus though it is highly unlikely to be welcoming to football fans or indeed open on a Friday evening. The residential streets to the North alongside the N11 approaching Donnybrook Rugby Stadium are the nearest place to find food and drink prior to the game, though this is a good 15 minutes walk from the ground. Inside the ground, fans will find food and drink on the open concourse at the rear of the Main Stand.
From the North & Mid-West
Join onto the M50 Orbital Road at Junction 3 (M1 From the North) or Junction 7 (N4 from the Mid West) then exit at Junction 11, turning left onto the N81 Tallaght Road, heading into the South suburbs of Dublin. Once at Terenure the road becomes the R114.At the Rathgar crossroads turn right and head South along Orwell Road, passing St Lukes Hospital on the left. Then turn left into Orwell Park, then at the Junction turn right into Milltown Road, crossing the Luas Green line tram. You will see the River Dodder on the right hand side, turn right into the R117 Dundrum Road, then when you see the Sports Ground on the left hand side turn left into Bird Avenue. At the forked junction turn left and follow Clonskeagh Road, you will then see the West Entrance to the UCD campus on the right hand side.
From the South West
Follow the N7 North of Naas, then exit onto the N82 at Junction 3 Citywest Interchange. At the end of the Junction, turn left onto the N81 towards Dublin and follow the Tallaght Bypass. Continue over the M50 Junction 11 and head into the South suburbs of Dublin. Once at Terenure the road becomes the R114.At the Rathgar crossroads turn right and head South along Orwell Road, passing St Lukes Hospital on the left. Then turn left into Orwell Park, then at the Junction turn right into Milltown Road, crossing the Luas Green line tram.You will see the River Dodder on the right hand side, turn right into the R117 Dundrum Road, then when you see the Sports Ground on the left hand side turn left into Bird Avenue. At the forked junction turn left and follow Clonskeagh Road, you will then see the West Entrance to the UCD campus on the right hand side.
There is a car park beside the grey sports building in Wynnsward Drive, Once parked follow the mini roundabout to the left, this will lead you to the side of the National Hockey Stadium, the UCD Bowl will then emerge to the right. If you get lost you will find a number of colourful layout plans all around the campus which will guide you towards the UCD Bowl.
The nearest railway station is Sydney Parade, which is around a mile away from the UCD Belfield campus can be reached by taking the Bray or Greystones bound Dart Commuter Train from Dublin Connolly station. Once at Sydney Parade it is a 10-15 minute walk to the ground.
Turn left out of the station entrance then at the junction turn left again and walk over the level crossing, heading away from the coast. After a minute you will then see the Spanish Embassy on the right hand side, at the crossroads turn left into Merrion Road then once you have passed the Japanese Embassy on the right hand side turn right into Nutley Lane, passing St Vincents Hospital. Stay on this road for the next 5 minutes, continue past Elm Park Golf Course and the N11 crossroads into Greenfield Park. Follow the road as it turns sharply to the left in front of University Lodge, you will then see the ground on the right hand side, with the turnstile block at the rear of the Main Stand leading into the home and away sections of the ground.
From Bachelors Walk in the city centre (at stop number 313), you can catch the Southbound Dublin Bus 39A UCD Belfield service, which travels over the River Liffey and runs past Donnybrook Rugby Ground before heading into the Bus Station of the UCD campus, which lies next to an Athletics Ground. Once at the Bus Station large and colourful layout plans will point you towards the UCD Bowl in the North of the site.
OAP/Students 18’s €10
Under 12’s €5
Official Matchday Programme €2
Geographically speaking UCD have three Dublin rivals of note; St Patrick’s Athletic, Bohemian and Shelbourne, though had Shamrock Rovers been able to continue playing at Glenmalure Park in the Milltown area to the immediate West of the UCD campus then surely they would have been the main rival. Even though the modern day Shamrock Rovers play at Tallaght they could still be considered local rivals, possibly less so for Bray Wanderers even though they are also close by to the south.
1,986 v Shamrock Rovers
League Of Ireland Premier Division 1st October 2010
2019: 739 (Premier Division)
2018: 297 (First Division)
If you require hotel accommodation in the area then first try a hotel booking service provided by Booking.com. They offer all types of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets from; Budget Hotels, Traditional Bed & Breakfast establishments to Five Star Hotels and Serviced Apartments. Plus their booking system is straightforward and easy to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will help towards the running costs of keeping this Guide going.
If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, then please e-mail me at: [email protected] and I’ll update the guide.
Special thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the information and photos of the UCD Bowl at the University College Dublin.