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Pat's may turn to O'Brien after Buckley exit

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Liam Buckley: Seven-year reign. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Liam Buckley: Seven-year reign. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Liam Buckley: Seven-year reign. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Managers of the big clubs in Ireland usually leave their posts on bad terms, but sadness, not anger, was the mood in Inchicore yesterday as Liam Buckley left his post as manager of St Patrick's Athletic, after almost seven years.

It technically ended on a sour note as there were boos from the home supporters at the final whistle of his final game, a poor 3-1 loss at home to what was effectively Bohemians' reserves last Saturday.

Already out of the cups, off the pace in the title race and way behind in the race for Europe, that defeat to their rivals would have little bearing on their season but it turned out to be the last straw.

Buckley had led the club to some great days in his time: a league title in 2013, an FAI Cup which had eluded the Saints for four decades, great nights in Europe.

They had promoted some superb young players and played a brand of football whose style was only bettered by Dundalk. Ex-Saints like Chris Forrester and Conor O'Malley were named in Ireland squads. Young Saints regularly featured in the Irish youth teams.

But there was a sense that Buckley's time, for all its glory, was up and that a fresh face and voice was needed. The succession race could be a short one. The name of Andy Reid has already been floated as the ex-international has a high profile, has (some) coaching experience from his time in England with Nottingham Forest, and he has a link to the club as his dad and uncle both played for Pat's.

Experienced coaches like Paul Doolin, Harry Kenny and Pat Fenlon are available. Saints legend Paul Osam is impressing while learning his trade as manager of the Ireland U-16s.

But owner Garrett Kelleher is more likely to look within the club and hand the reins to Ger O'Brien, a popular former Saints player who has been on the coaching staff for some time and was Buckley's right-hand man, with O'Brien also overseeing the Saints' academy.

O'Brien has a lot of plus points and give him the job would offer continuity but also a fresh voice though others will be keen for a post that's still attractive.

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