Midfielders Timmy Molloy, Kevin Coffey and Conor Crowley have parted company with UCD following the completion of their studies at the college.
Manager Collie O’Neill confirmed the trio’s departure following Friday night’s 1-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers, which leaves the club bottom of the Premier Division.
UCD are unique in the League of Ireland in that they operate an exclusively scholarship-based model where only players registered in the college during the season can play.
Players are signed to professional terms but must be registered with the college at some point during the football season to be eligible.
Captain Gary O’Neill and Ireland under-21 defender Liam Scales are also likely to leave in November, if not sooner, after completing their degrees this month.
While only Molloy could be considered a first-team player, having started the majority of College’s 17 games this season, all three departures will hit an already shallow squad.
“It’s the nature of the beast here,” a sanguine O’Neill told extratime.ie.
“Timmy Molloy is gone. Kev Coffey is gone. Conor Crowley is gone. A few of them are finished the college term and that’s them gone from the club.
“Kev Coffey is gone to Canada, Timmy Molloy is gone back to Galway. It is what it is.”
Under-19 players Danu Bishop and Harry McEvoy were promoted to thebench as Finn Harps’ 3-2 win at home to Waterford saw them jump above the Students for the first time.
O’Neill confirmed that he is unlikely to bring in any recruits not already in the club’s system, with last summer’s addition of Conor Davis from Reading unlikely to be replicated.
Striker Davis joined last summer following the departure of Georgie Kelly to Dundalk – again, following the completion of his degree – and scored five as UCD won the league.
The Drogheda man doesn’t foresee such serendipity happening again this summer, although he’s keeping his fingers crossed.
“You often get the one little surprise like that, but at this moment in time there’s nothing there.”