CORK CITY'S Garry Buckley says that the double champions and Dundalk have brought the best out of one another over the last four years and this trend is set to continue next season.
The Ballyvolane man said that the two best teams in the country are set to continue and step up their fierce rivalry going into next season’s 10 team Premier Division and a title race that will be even harder to win with clubs playing one another four times in 2018 – twice at home, twice away!
“Our attitude was spot on for the Cup final at the weekend and obviously the players that came on in the second half had a big impact on the game and they made all the difference.
"It’s been a fantastic season and the hope is that we can strengthen the squad again and go again next season which will be another big campaign for us with Champions’ League football to come in the summer,” said the ever-present Buckley.
“I was a little disappointed to be substituted myself but I had a knock and was feeling a niggle and we were all getting a bit leggy in extra-time. The thing is we have an unbelievable squad and everybody can start a game or come in and make an impact and that’s exactly how it was against Dundalk.
“A case in point was to see Achille Campion come on and get a priceless goal after what was a tough season for him with little game minutes. But they all stepped up to the plate and it paid dividends in the end,” he added.
Reflecting on what is an historic period for the Leeside club, Buckley added: “This is a special achievement and for me it’s certainly the best moment in my career. No Cork City team from the 1984 era has ever done the double but we have and that means we have re-written the club’s history and I am immensely proud of that.
“It’s great for us to be double champions and we won four trophies this year. The only piece of silverware we missed out on was the League Cup and Dundalk have that tucked away after they beat Shamrock Rovers in the EA Sports Cup final,” said the former Leeds schoolboy and youths player.
“It’s hard to achieve the double and it’s fairly unique in the modern game and history proves just how hard it is to do it. But it’s even harder to stay at the top and that’s the big challenge facing us next season.
“We have to remain focused on the big prizes and stay ultra-competitive if we are to retain our two domestic trophies,” added Bucks, who watched the team play from the terraces as a schoolboy.
“It’s was a proud day for us on Sunday and, especially, for the lads from Cork like myself, Benno, Nults, Gearoid ‘Chops’ Morrissey and Shane Griffin. Our main aim all year was to try and win the league and that was the one we really wanted. The Cup run was a bonus and once we made a bit of progress in the knock-out competition then we knew we had a chance of doing the double.
“I think we deserved it and the fact is that this team and this squad have improved every year under John means a lot. We got four cups this year and hopefully we can maintain this trend going into the new season.
"The rivalry and respect between us and Dundalk will continue and I have no doubt about that but we might see Shamrock Rovers and Derry come more into the picture.
“We have been getting the best out of each other for the last four years and that’s why it has been such a competitive league but we have broken Dundalk’s monopoly now and we have raised the bar again. We have had a good rivalry with Shelbourne over the years but I think Dundalk have taken their place at this stage,” he told me.