Buckley and the Saints are on the march

by Mark Beegan

Progressing nicely in the league, through to the next round of the Europa League, things are certainly looking promising for the Inchicore outfit. Financially speaking last Thursday’s win was worth a mammoth 100,000 euro for the League of Ireland side.

The victory in Europe gives Buckley’s team another chance to show their talent on the big stage that is European football.  Indeed, last week’s progression has only added to the growing sense of optimism around Richmond Park.

Since taking over from Pete Mahon this season, Liam Buckley has turned St Patrick’s Athletic into one of the most attractive footballing sides in the League’s recent history. Buckley has created a team that is a delightful cocktail of youthful exuberance and flair. St Patrick’s evisceration of Shamrock Rovers earlier this season is one of the best all round performances that the League of Ireland has seen in a long time.

Buckley’s side are compact and disciplined when defending but once they have the ball they play a delightfully swashbuckling yet patient brand of football. It is this patience that is one of the most impressive aspects of this team. The players clearly have utmost trust in Buckley’s brand of patient passing football.

St Patrick’s, as they showed when trailing Bohemians, are willing to pass and pass until the right opportunity to score presents itself. Sadly, this is a quality that too few League of Ireland teams possess. Too many teams in the league lack this patience and resort to punting the ball hopefully in the direction of the oppositions penalty box once confronted with any sort of half decent defence.

Buckley should be given huge credit for the stylish and swashbuckling nature of his team. Buckley has moulded a team in his own image.

Buckley, like Pats this season, has had to remain patient throughout his managerial career. He was sacked by Shamrock Rovers in 2004 and had to wait four years before he took over the managerial reins at Sporting Fingal.

Buckley’s spell in charge of Rovers is the one major blot on his managerial copybook.  His first job in management was as player manager at Athlone Town. Buckley led the midlands club to the semi-final of the FAI Cup in his first season in charge.

His exploits in the midlands did not go unnoticed and Buckley landed a huge job when he succeeded Pat Dolan as manager of St Patrick’s Athletic in 1998.

Under his stewardship, St Pats led the rest of the league on a merry dance, winning the Championship at a canter. With expectations sky high in Inchicore, the failure to make a serious impact in Europe led to Buckley’s dismissal in December 1999.

After this Buckley found himself back in charge of Athlone Town for a second time before landing the Shamrock Rovers job in April 2002. Buckley’s first season in charge saw Rovers reach the FAI Cup final and finish third in the League. This time European competition allowed Buckley and Rovers create history. Home and Away wins over Odra Wodzislaw saw Rovers become the first Irish side to win home and away in Europe since 1982.

Unfortunately for Buckley, Rovers form dipped alarmingly and after a poor run of results Buckley was sacked in September 2004. For one of the best managers in Ireland to be out of work for four years seems ludicrous but that was the case.

Indeed it was 2008 before Buckley landed a job, this time as manager of the newly formed Sporting Fingal. Buckley made an immediate impression with a solid first season before winning promotion and the FAI Cup in just his second season in charge. Buckley’s role in these triumphs was recognised when he was awarded the SWAI Personality of the Year award.

The next chapter in Buckley’s career looks certain to be a glorious one. The attacking verve of his St Patrick’s team should be regarded as the bench mark for other League of Ireland teams. This could be the start of something glorious for Buckley and St Patrick’s.

1 Response

  1. Joseph McSweeney says:

    To be fair Mark, he was heavily involved with the Sporting Fingal project from tip to toe for at the minimum two of his years out of work….if not all four. He’s a good manager alright – certainly tries to play football which is nice to see!

    Joseph.

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