Liam Buckley has set his sights on a top-half finish after his St Patrick’s Athletic side ended a seven-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Limerick on Friday night.
The Saints had sunk from fourth place to seventh as they went two months without a league point, which has all but ended their ambitions of European football for the first time in three years.
With the revelation the club’s ambitious plan to build a 12,000-seater stand as part of the regeneration the old St Michael’s Estate had been rejected, it’s been a demoralising few weeks.
And it looked like the Saints were set for yet another setback when Billy Dennehy put Limerick in front against the club he left in the winter from the penalty spot after 17 minutes.
The Inchicore side rallied, however, with late goals from super-sub Conan Byrne giving them a win and some much-needed positivity around the beleaguered club.
“We played far better in the second half, like we’ve done in a lot of games in previous weeks,” Buckley told the Dublin Gazette.
“We had a little bit of luck at the end but overall I thought we deserved our win.
“They weren’t bad in the first half but we had juggled a couple of bits and pieces around and it certainly didn’t work from my point of view.
“The balance of the team [was wrong]. We couldn’t get close to them and we weren’t effective when we had the ball. We changed a few things around and we played quite well.”
Barry Maguire had the freedom of Richmond Park early on against Conor Clifford, who left the Munster club earlier this month due to their financial troubles.
Maguire flashed a free kick wide early on before driving at Brendan Clarke from the edge of the box as he finished a move he started by robbing Clifford in midfield.
It was Maguire who won the penalty that led to the opener when he was clattered by Killian Brennan in the box as he got on the end of Darren Murphy’s pre-rehearsed corner.
Buckley brought on Conan Byrne and Jamie Lennon at the back and a much more balanced Saints side took the game to the Blues, who were down to the bare bones in terms of personnel.
Dean Clarke should have opened the scoring following a mistake from Killian Brouder but was denied by a great Tommy Holland save, and Holland would deny Thomas Byrne later on.
The dam eventually burst when Murphy tripped Conan Byrne in the area and the winger levelled from the spot, and he completed the turnaround with a well-placed header three minutes later.
Buckley has his eye on Friday’s opponents Derry City, who are five points ahead of the Saints in fifth.
“I have no doubt it’ll be a difficult game. They’re a few points ahead of us. If they beat us, they could be out of distance for us, but if we can beat them we’re back in the mix.
“Winning can give you a bit of a bounce, so hopefully we can go into next week with a bit of positivity.”