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Buckley aiming for victorious reunion with Saints

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Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Buckley. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Buckley is planning to acknowledge the travelling St Patrick's Athletic supporters in The Showgrounds tonight after not getting the opportunity to say a proper goodbye after his seven-year spell with the Saints ended last September.

But he hopes that they are preparing to return home with no points when that moment comes.

Buckley is settling into life at Sligo Rovers, and there is strong local anticipation ahead of the visit of his former club. A heavy promotional drive built around families has led to confidence that a bumper crowd will be present for the first home game of the campaign with last Friday's hard-fought draw in Dundalk helping to build optimism.

The Dubliner acknowledges that it will be slightly strange to find himself plotting against the Saints after a spell with the club which included a league title win (2013) and the end of their long wait for FAI Cup success (2014).

"We had some great times and some poor times," said Buckley yesterday. "The last few years weren't great but the time before that... I couldn't have enjoyed it any more. The fans were great, they were very patient at the start.

"They'll be getting my round of applause at the end of the match but hopefully after a defeat for them. We've got a good bunch of players up here; I'm still finding my feet with them all. We have to try and get our style built into the way the team plays but that takes a bit of time."

The 58-year-old has first-hand experience of the local appetite for the game. His Saints side went toe to toe with the Bit O'Red in 2012 but ultimately came off second best in the race for the title with a 3-2 defeat at The Showgrounds key.

Buckley remembers his family coming to a packed ground 30 minutes before that game and the occasion left an imprint; the only comparison during his time in the League of Ireland was a 1999 victory for Pat's in Cork during his first spell in charge.

"That (2012 game) was in mind when Sligo approached me. Could we get it back to anything like that?

"It's tricky when your budget isn't as high as the clubs in Dublin; there's a challenge to attract players to the West. But the structure here is very professional and we need to get the best out of what we have. The fans have a very important part to play in the development of the club here; we need their help by them coming out and supporting us."

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Buckley hopes to make one more addition to his squad ahead of today's domestic transfer deadline.

Dundalk have signed midfielder Joe McKee on loan from Falkirk until June to cope with the injury absences of Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney but Slovakian midfielder Filip Lesniak turned down a loan switch from Danish side Aalborg.

Bohemians have received a significant boost with in-demand striker Ali Reghba returning to the club but the deal has an agreement that will allow him to join Leicester City in the summer. The 19-year-old impressed in a recent trial with the Premier League club.


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