Buckley: Cup final heartache is perfect motivation

By Ciarán D’Arcy

The Liberty reporter Ciarán D’arcy interviews Liam Buckley, former league winner as player and manager with St.Patrick’s Athletic.

St. Patrick’s Athletic’s decade-long depravation of notable silverware may still loom over the club, but Pat’s manager Liam Buckley is reasonably content with his charges’ efforts in 2012.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Liberty, Buckley, a former league winner as player and manager with the club, revealed that November’s cup final heartbreak can act as a motivational springboard for his young Saints squad.

“Shamrock Rovers made four finals in a row in the 1980s so why can’t we expect ourselves to be back in the final next year or the year after?

“We were all on the pitch when Derry were presented with the cup, and it’s quite a painful and emotional one when you lose and there’s so much weight on winning it. To reflect back on that before any FAI Cup match next season will be motivation enough to drive us on,” said the well-travelled Dubliner.

One year on from the start of his second stint as manager in Inchicore, Buckley feels that the team he has assembled possesses a competitive cutting-edge that may well yield some silverware in seasons to come.

“I thought we played reasonably well most of the year. Certainly in some games we were very good, we just needed a better consistency throughout the season to get it over the line.

“That said, having finished third in the league and second in the cup I was delighted with the effort everyone gave and if we can improve on that next year we’ll have a successful season,” asserted the former Shamrock Rovers and Sporting Fingal supremo.

With his former second in command Trevor Croly bringing in some big-name signings down the road in Tallaght, including the ex-Pat’s trio of Barry Murphy, James Chambers and Sean O’Connor, Buckley has managed to produce some transfer coups of his own to add to an already formidable squad.

“The squad is certainly looking settled. Shane McFaul did particularly well for me at Sporting Fingal before he went to Finland so I have no doubt as to his ability, and Conan Byrne also scored a lot of goals for Fingal over a short period of time.

“Killian Brennan is one of the best free-kick takers in the league apart from being a top player who brings a bit of experience as well. With the players that we have we’ve kept the bulk of our team together which I’m delighted with and we’ve also strengthened-up in certain areas so we’ll be hoping to bring some success back to the club,” said Buckley.

While speculation was rife that Pats’ emerging stars such as Jake Carroll and teenage sensation Chris Forrester could well be tempted away from the Emmet Road during the off-season, Buckley has done admirably to retain the services of a vast majority of the squad that performed remarkably well considering the intensely competitive nature of last year’s Premier Division.

“When I got the job last year we had to put a full squad together having kept only five players from last season while bringing in 15, and the bulk of the staff bar one was changed around as well, so from that end I was delighted with the effort that everybody put in,” concluded the former UEFA Cup semi-finalist.

So, given their formidable exertions during a ten month-long season the Pat’s squad can expect a nice long break over the coming winter months? A nice thought, but Buckley has other plans for his ambitious group of reds.

“The lads will all be doing their own personal training over the next while. Officially, they’ll be back in an off-season programme geared around strength and conditioning, and then they’ll be back for pre-season training around the 11th January which gives us a month’s preparation ahead of our Setanta Cup first round game on the 11th February.

“I’d like us to go a bit better in that competition than we did last year. Bearing in mind that we were still putting the whole project together at that stage last season, next year we’ll have all our players signed up, the off-season programme done and we’ll be well into our pre-season.”

With all the attention centred around the off-season transfer activities of the two Rovers’, the Richmond Park side have remained under the radar somewhat heading into the new year.

Given Buckley’s proven managerial track record of delivering success, it can be safely assumed that the Supersaints will be launching another concerted effort for major honours in what promises to be a similarly rip-roaring League of Ireland contest in 2013.


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