Liam Buckley wins Soccer Writers’ Personality of the Year award
Manager recognised for his achievement in leading St Patrick’s Athletic to the title for first time in 14 years
St Patrick’s Athletic’s manager Liam Buckley, centre, with Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, left, and Paul Buttner, President of the SWAI at The Conrad Hotel, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Liam Buckley’s achievement of bringing the league title back to Richmond Park was recognised by the members of the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland last night when the Dubliner was named as their organisation’s Personality of the Year for the second time.
The event was attended by the new Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane although The northerner said he had only come along “to help Roy settle a few scores”.
O’Neill admitted that he is still missing the day to day involvement of club management but added: “ I’m getting used to it and I’m looking forward to really getting going with the qualifying campaign.”
Buckley beat off competition from fellow managers Stephen Kenny and Roddy Collins as well as two of his own players - Killian Brennan and Anto Flood along with Dundalk’s Richie Towell to lift the award. Kenny and Brennan ran him closest in the voting.
The St Patrick’s Athletic boss last won the Airtricity sponsored award in 2009 when he was with Sporting Fingal. This time around he helped a club he had previously played for and managed to the title in 1999 to regain the championship for the first time in those 14 years.
One of Buckley’s regulars, Brendan Clarke, won the Goalkeeper of the Year award last night ahead of Sligo’s Gary Rogers and Peter Cherrie of Dundalk. Clarke, who played 31 of the team’s 33 league games, conceded fewer goals than any his rivals and helped the eventual champions keep 20 clean sheets during the campaign.
The association’s Special Merit Award was given posthumously to Tommy McConville, the immensely popular defender who won six senior international caps and is most closely associated with his home town club, Dundalk. He passed away in October, aged 67.
A presentation was also made to Owen Heary who retired from playing this season after a career spanning 20 years, seven league titles and more than 550 first teams games for Kilkenny City, Home Farm, Shelbourne and Bohemians, who he now manages.
Shamrock Rovers, meanwhile, have confirmed John Gill is to be Trevor Croly’s assistant for the coming season.