Wednesday 16 January 2019

Saints boss wants changes

St Patrick’s Athletic manager Liam Buckley says changes must be made to ensure the League of Ireland season runs more smoothly.
St Patrick’s Athletic manager Liam Buckley says changes must be made to ensure the League of Ireland season runs more smoothly.

St Patrick's Athletic boss Liam Buckley wants the FAI to bring in changes to the season's structure to prevent clubs from being penalised for success.

The Saints have a busy week ahead, with a league game tonight at home to Sligo Rovers as well as Sunday's FAI Cup semi-fina against Cork City, this Sligo match a chance for Pat's to move out of the bottom half of the table.

But October will really test the stamina of the players - and the pockets of their supporters - as the Inchicore club have three postponed league games to squeeze into a calendar which already has them down to play four regular league games, and at least one Cup match, an added problem arising from the postponement of last week's Premier Division game away to Finn Harps.

"Everyone needs to have an input on this as something has to be done," says Buckley, whose side are potential kingmakers in the Premier Division as Pat's have to play back matches against the title-chasing pair of Dundalk and Cork City.

"I think most managers would agree that the season is too short and needs to be spread out.

"Dundalk have done particularly well in Europe, Cork and ourselves got through a round in the Europa League, winning in Europe does stretch out your season so we need to find a way to find a solution and not fall into the same trap every year.

"It's hard on the supporters when you have so many games squeezed in but as a manager, you are exposing your players to injury with so many games and no real recovery time. We need another three or four weeks in the season to make sure it runs smoothly, the off-season is too long.

"Our clubs have done well in Europe this year and that could happen again next year, but Dundalk are really being penalised for winning the league last year because of all the matches they have to play, it's unfair as we are all aspiring to make the kind of leap that Dundalk have made this year.

"Teams can't be at a disadvantage for doing well in Europe," added Buckley, his side now facing another back game due to the Finn Harps postponement.

The Saints' Cup form is good but one point from the last three league games has caused them to drift down the table, down to eighth place, though they do have three games on hand on the clubs immediately above them. David Cawley and Jack Bayly remain absent for the Saints but Conor O'Malley is back in training. For Sligo, Craig Roddan and Regan Donelon return from suspension but Ciaran Nugent again deputises in goal for the injured Micheál Schlingermann.

Sunday's Cup tie offers a route to Europe and a trip to Lansdowne Road for the final but Buckley also stresses the importance of the league tie this evening. "Tonight is the priority as I want us to be going into Sunday with confidence high, we need to move up the league table and I want to see us get a good result tonight," he added.

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