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'Please God, our players won't be affected by cup drought' - Buckley

The St Patrick’s Athletic boss spoke to TheScore ahead of tomorrow’s Ford FAI Cup final at Lansdowne Road.

Buckley with the cup.
Buckley with the cup.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC may be 51 years without an FAI Cup win, but manager Liam Buckley is confident that it won’t put any extra pressure on his players’ shoulders.

The Saints have only won the competition twice in their history and last lifted the cup back in 1961 but since then, have fallen at various hurdles along the way.

Tomorrow afternoon they face Derry City at the Aviva Stadium and Buckley, who knows all about the hoodoo having been on the losing side as a player in the 1996 final, is hoping his squad just focus on what happens on the pitch and the task at hand.

“Please God, it won’t be affecting our lads this weekend,” Buckley told TheScore when asked if he thought the drought was a burden for his players.

I mean our fellas don’t know about the last 50 years, some of them were only born 25, 20 years ago, never mind 50. They’re excited about winning a cup and that’s the be all and end all of it.

“It’s on the day; if they turn up on the day and play well. We’ll try and prepare them as best we can between now and Sunday. Recovery, energy-wise and their speed and tactically we’ll have their bits and pieces down by Sunday and hopefully that will give us enough to win.”

Buckley as a Pat’s player back in ’96. Credit: Matt Browne\INPHO

Three of the last finals have been decided by penalty shootouts and Buckley admits there is very little he can do to prepare his players for taking spot-kicks in front of 20-odd thousand fans at Lansdowne Road.

“For me, you can practice penalties until the cows come home…  The analogy I used there was: Padraig Harrington practicing a 10-foot putt. He probably land 100 of them in a go in practice, out on his putting green. Put him in a Masters with 10 feet and it’s a different putt than the one he’s practiced.

“It’s the same with the penalties; you need a little more nerve than anything else. Loads of fellas can score penalties in training. It’s about having the proverbials to stick it in the net when you’re  under a bit of pressure.

You can’t practice that pressure, nerves. Unless you’re in finals and you get penalties in finals and that doesn’t happen too often.

“Having said that, we got through on penalties against Drogheda. The lads took them particularly well. I was pleased with the composure and confidence they scored with and Barry (Murphy) saved a few.”

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