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Buckley and Croly in heated exchange

TENSIONS between Shamrock Rovers boss Trevor Croly and St Patrick's Athletic manager Liam Buckley threatened to boil over in the aftermath of Tuesday's scoreless draw at Inchicore following a bizarre dispute between the pair in the press room after the game.

Croly took issue with the fact that Buckley's son was in the vicinity of his briefing with newspaper journalists, temporarily stopping proceedings to ask if he was a member of the media.

The teenager then returned to his father who was talking at the opposite end of the room, with the Saints supremo unimpressed that Croly had made an issue of his presence.

After he finished his press duties, the Hoops boss turned to the youth and told him that he should become a journalist.

This drew an immediate response from Buckley, who was standing across the room, and directly asked Croly if he had "something to hide".

Croly served as Buckley's assistant at Richmond Park last season, and his high-profile winter departure to take control in Tallaght proved acrimonious after Sean O'Connor, James Chambers and Barry Murphy travelled with him.

His appointment as Stephen Kenny's successor was flagged before November's FAI Cup final and it created an awkward atmosphere ahead of the Saints' defeat to Derry.

Subsequent comments from O'Connor about the ambition levels at Pat's added fuel to the fire. Buckley's men were unlucky not to claim full points from the second meeting of the teams this season, a considerable improvement on their heavy defeat at the hands of Croly's charges early in the campaign.

The Saints have responded well to that setback and are three points off the pace set by Sligo, while the Hoops are a further 10 back, but did claim Setanta Cup glory.

Croly feels that the cramped fixture schedule brought about by their exploits in the cross-border competition contributed to their lethargic display on Tuesday, with several players also sustaining knocks.

"They're not robots," said Croly. "When you play four games in 12 days, we're humans and physiologically there is a process of rehydrating and recovering. It's excessive."

Irish Independent