“There will be more points dropped by teams right across the board”- Liam Buckley

ST PATRICK’S Athletic manager Liam Buckley believes this sesason’s Airtricity League title is going to be hotly contested by a number of teams given the improvements that have been made in the off season.

While the Inchicore side has been bolstered with new arrivals, the likes of Kurtis Byrne from Bohemians, former Shamrock Rovers pair Barry Murphy and Patrick Cregg and ex-Sligo defender Gavin Perers, there has been plenty of chopping and changing among the other sides largely tipped to have a say in the destination of the Premier Division crown.

Liam Buckley 23022017

As a result of this, Buckley believes a number of sides can mount a serious title bid and that 2017 will not amount to another two-horse race between Cork City and reigning champions Dundalk.

“I think it’s going to be one of the most competitive leagues this season” insisted the St Pat’s boss.

“ I think there will be more points dropped by teams right across the board.

“Dundalk have lost a number of players and have brought in some new ones. Rovers have some new players as have we and even Limerick have come up and signed some new foreign players.

“For a club like Pat’s we’ll be targeting a top four finish. We have done that four out of the five years I’ve been here.

“But there are seven or eight teams who’ll be thinking they can snatch one of those European spots so it’s going to be tough” he stressed.

While Pat’s, who kick off their new league camapign at home to Bray Wanderers on Friday night, did make it back-to-back EA Sports Cup titles last year, they will certainly be looking to improve on their 2016 league form.

Buckley does not believe their lack of consistency in the Premier was down to one particular factor and has attempted to address all areas of their set-up in order to rectify that.

“We look at all areas. You can’t just look at one area and put everything on that.

“We look at the whole picture- organisation, set pieces, the balance of the team, the dynamics of this group. There are lots of areas that need to be covered” he explained.

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