Georgie Kelly is a man in demand, but the Inishowen man is taking it all in his stride.
Kelly bagged a club record 17 goals for UCD last season and is a hot property in the League of Ireland.
The 20-year-old, a final-year commerce student at the Belfield campus, bagged a hat-trick against Athlone on the final day of the 2017 season. His treble meant he went ahead of the 15-goal seasons that had been recorded by Willie Doyle and Ciaran Kilduff.
2018 hasn’t begun too shabbily, either.
Yesterday, he hit a second-half goal as UCD reached the Collingwood Cup final with a 2-0 win over DCU, having netted twice in Monday’s 3-0 victory over Maynooth.
UCD face the hosts, Queen’s University, in this afternoon’s final, with Kelly having eyelashes flutter from willing managers. Stephen Kenny of Dundalk, who lives in Fahan, a stone’s throw from Tooban, where Kelly was born.
“I’ve got no plans beyond the current term, really…I’ll just go and see what happens,” Kelly says.
Kelly speaks as a UCD player and is, beyond the speculation at least, eyeing up a tough campaign with the Students in the First Division.
“The play-offs coming back will make it a lot more competitive this year,” he says.
“Four places now will get you something and it’s a strong, tough division. There’ll definitely be more competition.
“We were disappointed with how we finished the season last year. You always want to at least make a push for promotion.
“You only have to look at who’s there, the likes of Harps, Galway, Shelbourne, Longford. And there’s always a chance of a surprise team coming from nowhere.”
The return of Harps to the First Division will add a little spice for Kelly, particularly with Ollie Horgan’s squad containing a schoolfriend in Mark Coyle, while he lined out alongside Mark Timlin on Scoil Mhuire teams.
Kelly says: “It’s good to have Harps in the Division. I’ve never played against them,
“I’m looking forward to the new season. We’re looking fit and strong at the minute, but you’ve no idea who could win the First Division now, any one of a few teams could make a push for it.”
Kelly was nurtured first by Mickey Bradley at Aileach FC before being snapped up by Derry City, where he was tutored by John Quigg and Eddie Seydak.
It wasn’t long before Kelly had some thinking to do. Derry City offered a contract while he mulled over his college options and UCD put a scholarship offer on the table.
“I had a big choice to make,” he says.
“Peter Hutton was the manager at Derry and had a contract out for me. It was really tough to turn down. Peter showed he wanted me and it was tempting. But I had sort of my mind set on going away to college.
“I think now that I made the right call.”
Kelly admits that he was unsure of his place in the UCD side at the start of 2017, but he soon showed his promise and his worth with a superb campaign.
He doesn’t get back to Donegal much now, with UCD training on Saturdays, but is clearly enjoying his game at the moment.
Before he mulled between Derry and UCD, Kelly had made another call that could have altered the story completely.
His talents on the Gaelic Football fields were obvious, too. At Hibernian Park, he turned out for his local Burt and Declan Bonner came calling some years ago.
“I was in Declan’s Under-16 team and got on well with them,” he says.
“I won the Buncrana Cup and then went into the Under-17s. When I went to Derry City, I had to make a choice there. We were training three days a week with Derry and had to pick one or the other.”
Kelly had a fortnight at Bristol City that came to nothing, but still the hope remains that a big move might arrive at his doorstep.
He says: “It’s always in the back of the mind that something like that could happen again. That’s always the drive for footballers.”Tags: