independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Buckley eager for Saints to 'nail title' on home turf

St Patrick's Athletic's Conor Kenna pictured at Richmond Park ahead of their crucial Airtricity League Premier Division clash against Sligo Rovers tomorrow MATT BROWNE / SPORTSFILE

"We all make mistakes," says Liam Buckley with a broad smile.

He has been asked once again about former St Patrick's Athletic player Stuart Byrne's comments that the club would win nothing under their affable manager.

The pundit has since acknowledged that he got it wrong and the proof will be in the pudding when the Saints complete their title journey over the next few weeks. While the trophy is not yet secure, with six points to spare over Dundalk and just three games to go, they could be champions as early as tomorrow if things go their way.

RTE's cameras will be in situ for their meeting with Sligo Rovers and a big crowd is expected for the tea-time meeting and, while Buckley is already dreaming about Champions League football in 2014, he is careful not to jump the gun too much.

A year ago they went to Sligo and lost 3-2 as the Bit O'Red claimed the title and they'd love nothing more than to reverse that on home soil tomorrow.

"We've got to be excited about it," Buckley said. "You want to be where we are. We're in a great spot – bearing in mind we've done nothing (yet).

"If we could just nail it down on Sunday for our supporters, it would be a great occasion. One of best occasions last season, ironically we lost, was against Sligo. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the result. If we could flip that, it would be great for our supporters. Winning it here would be great."

While he is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to sign a new deal, Buckley is confident that he and most of his squad will be there again next season.

Captain Conor Kenna, whose family hail from Inchicore, is on the cusp of his first league title. When he joined the Saints in 2010, they had just survived relegation and he has watched at first hand as first Pete Mahon and then Buckley rebuilt the club.

"When I first came under Pete, he said he wanted to win things. That's why I came into Pat's," he explained.

"They had a bad season before that and there was a lot of change; a lot of big players on big contracts. He steadied the ship. We had two good runs – we finished fourth and we got into Europe. Then Liam came in and he added a different type of football.

"Obviously, we've built from steadying things up and now, hopefully, we can top it off.

"The fans have come back over the last few years while I've been here and they are coming back more and more.

"You had the neighbours up in Tallaght winning stuff as well, so we want to keep them quiet. The lads know what it means to the fans around and to the locals as well."

St Patrick's Athletic v Sligo Rovers,

Live, RTE2, 5.15

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