Liam was born in Dublin on the 14th of April 1960. He wouldn’t come into the public eye until he was 18. This was the age he made his League of Ireland debut with Shelbourne in the 1978/79 league season. Making 32 appearances and netting eight goals in all competitions wasn’t a bad first season for the young striker. It was impressive enough for Buckley to get a move away from the middling Shelbourne side he found himself in and get his first crack at full time football.
The step up in class came with a move to another Dublin side Shamrock Rovers. He proved himself worthy of the move to Milltown grabbing himself eight league goals that season. Along with 20 in all competitions which seen a drastic improvement in his goal tally from his first season.
Following this it was time for Liam to make a quick three-month excursion away from the league in 1981. He went away on loan to Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps. This was to gain more experience in the football world.
He returned to his home club of Shamrock Rovers in late 1981 and he really found his form upon his return. For the next two seasons he ended up as the top goal scorer at Rovers. This gave himself and the club plenty of momentum heading into a historic 1983/84 league campaign. That campaign would see them win their first league title in 20 years. It was also another successful season for Buckley. Goal wise as he finished off the season with a very respectable 13 league goals. This would see him get his first taste of European football.
Buckley would then spend over four years away from the league playing around Europe with three different sides. He was first transferred to Belgium side K.S.V Waregem in 1984. With the highlight of his two-year spell been helping his side reach the semi finals of the UEFA Cup in their 1985/86 campaign.
A move to the La Liga followed when he joined Spanish side Racing Santander. This move gave Liam his self-confessed highlight of his career as he made his debut for his new club against Barcelona in the famous Camp Nou. He was making his debut in front of around 90,000 people in one of the world’s most famous football stadiums. It also happened to be a Barcelona side with two debuting stars of their own in Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker adding more grandiose to the occasion.
Even though his debut was the peak of his La Liga career it was still an enjoyable two seasons in the career of Liam Buckley. He ended his European adventure with a move to Swiss side Montreux – Sports.
Liam returned to the League of Ireland and to Shamrock Rovers, but nagging injuries didn’t make his spell as successful as any of his previous spells. He decided to bring his time with the side to an end after just scoring one goal in the 1991/92 season.
Buckley didn’t have to go too far as he was picked up by another Dublin side St. Patricks Athletic. During his spell at the club between 1992 until 1997 Liam began to transition into the coaching side of the game. He went on to be a part of the Saints 1995/96 league winning squad as a player/assistant coach. Buckley seemed to leave St. Patricks Athletic a frustrated figure. In late 1996 Brian Kerr left his managerial post after a decade at the club. Buckley wasn’t offered the manager role as the club decided to appoint Pat Dolan instead.
He decided to leave to finish off that season with a short spell at Sligo Rovers. The following season he moved to Athlone Town as a player/manager which was perfect for Liam at the time who was in his 30s. He was also looking the really transition into an off-field figure. He had a successful first season with Athlone guiding them to the semi finals of the FAI Cup. Liam decided to hang up his boots and retire to focus on managing after that season in 1998.
It’s also very notable to add that during his playing career Liam Buckley represented Ireland three times once at Under 21 level and twice at senior level. He also represented the League of Ireland XI four times over the years in various games. The highlights of which include him playing at the River Plate Stadium against an Argentina side including Diego Maradona in 1980.
Now with a new career came a new role. He was offered his first full managerial role with St. Patricks Athletic for the 1998/99 season after Pat Dolan stepped down after one game into the season. He even manged to go on and once again help retain the league title for St. Pats in his first season. Unfortunately, Liam would quickly learn the cutthroat nature that comes with the job. Bad domestic and European results cost Liam his job in late 1999.
After going back to Athlone Town to gain more managerial experience at the start of the millennium another former club gave Liam an opportunity. He went back to the club where he arguably had his most success in his playing career Shamrock Rovers.
Again, he showed he has the capability to be a successful manger as he got Rovers to a FAI Cup Final in a losing effort against Derry City. Qualification for Europe also came that season with a third-place finish in the league. The resulting European run got off to a bad start dropping out of the UEFA Cup at the hands of Swedish side Djurgårdens IF. They found themselves in the now abolished UEFA Intertoto Cup. Which was contested by clubs who failed to qualify for any of the major European competitions. They recorded two famous wins in this tournament against Polish side Odra Wodzislaw. These wins seen this Rovers side become the first Irish team to record home and away wins since the Shamrock Rovers side of 1982 which Buckley himself was a part of.
However, the rollercoaster that is football started up again. Liam entered the 2004/05 season with a relatively new squad of players, and this led to another season of poor results which was enough to see him get sacked by Rovers in 2004.
Along came the freshest of fresh starts. Liam returned to the managerial game after a spell away from the hot seat in 2008 with newly formed team Sporting Fingal. Who got granted their license to play in the First Division in 2008. Following a very respectful third place finish in his first season he guided his new team into the Premier Division in his second season via the relegation/promotion play offs. Not only that but his Sporting Fingal side even went on to win that seasons FAI Cup defeating Sligo Rovers in the final.
Sporting Fingal finished fourth in their first and only season in the Premier Division. The club came into serious financial trouble that needs its own article to fully get into and had to pull out of the league. A disappointing setback for Liam as Sporting Fingal really seemed to be gathering momentum in the league with a very good group of players coming together.
However, he wouldn’t find himself out of work for long as he returned to the hot seat at St. Patricks Athletic for the 2012 season. That time in Inchicore gave Liam his most successful spell as a manger. His style of play made him and instant fan favourite with the Saints fans. His first season seen him guide the team to finish in a European spot which ultimately seen them face huge opposition in the German side Hannover. That season he would also get St. Pats to another FAI Cup final but it was another cup final defeat for the club.
The silverware began to flow after this for Liam and his team. They went on to win the league in 2013 and got that all-important FAI Cup win for the club the following year after a 53 year wait for the Inchicore faithful. This run at Pats came to its end in 2018 after six years things began to get stale, and everyone seemed in need of a fresh start.
A fresh start Sligo Rovers were only happy to give the now experienced manager. This is now where Liam Buckley calls home. He looks to bring success back to the Bit O Red and to work on the development of the young and experienced talent in the Sligo Rovers ranks. He slowly seems to be improving things at Sligo now into his second season at the club.
Liam Buckley’s honours thus far include:
4 League Titles
2x as a player with Shamrock Rovers in 1983/84 and with St. Patricks Athletic in 1995/96.
2x as a manager both with St. Patricks Athletic in 1998/99 and 2013
2 FAI Cups
Both as a manager with Sporting Fingal in 2009 and St. Patricks Athletic in 2014.
2 League Cups
Both as a manager with St. Patricks Athletic back to back in 2015 and 2016
2 Leinster Senior Cups
1x as a player with Shamrock Rovers in 1982
1x as a manager with St. Patricks Athletic in 2014
FAI Presidents Cup
1x as a manager with St. Patrick’s Athletic in 2014
Dublin City Cup
1x as a player with Shamrock Rovers in 1983/84
Shamrock Rovers Player of the Year in 1981/82 and 1982/83
SWAI Personality of the Year
2x as a manager with Sporting Fingal in 2009 and St. Patrick’s Athletic in 2013
Phillips Sport Manager of the Month for October 2013