“I just sent John Caulfield a text saying ‘hard luck’,” says Buckley. “And I tried to get through to Stephen (Kenny) and sent a text to him as well. In fairness to them, they both had great seasons. Five or six thousand people turning up in Cork; Dundalk, the place was buzzing. I remember when we won it here the place was buzzing too.”
For Buckley, the disappointment of coming up short in Pats’ bid to retain their title will be more than softened if his players can end that infamous 53-year drought for the Inchicore club by beating Derry City in Sunday’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium. Not that the manager thinks their season will have been a failure if they don’t end up lifting the silverware.
“As I would have texted John Caulfield the other night — one game shouldn’t define your season,” he reflects. “I’d look at it over the whole season. They finished second. We finished third. Obviously, we wanted to get a bit tighter to both Cork and Dundalk, especially with the way the run-in was. It would have been nice to have three teams in it.
“From the cup perspective, our ambition every year would be to try to win that. You need a bit of luck, I have to say. But once we knew the league was out of our control, I definitely had one eye on the cup because we want to win something this year. Our ambition at the start of the season was the league, the FAI Cup and to do well in Europe. So, to that end, if we can win the cup this year it would be great.”
Pat’s will have to do it without Mark Quigley, following surgery on a recurring back problem. Former Sligo Rovers striker Aaron Greene is also cup-tied for Sunday.
But other than those two, Buckley will have a full squad to choose from.