Garry Buckley Interview

Conall Collier interviewed Sligo Rovers defender Garry Buckley for the matchnight programme against Cork City and discovered the frustrations that go with long-term injury and road to recovery for the former Cork City man who is planning a wedding in 2024.


“My mother said I was special and that’s why I’m Garry with two R’s”

Proud Cork man Garry Buckley arrived at The Showgrounds ahead of the 2020 season and after an initial role at midfield established a great partnership in central defence with John Mahon.

However, last August Garry sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the first leg tie of the Europa Conference League Qualifier against Viking FK in Stavanger and has been sidelined since.

Long-term injuries are what all players want to avoid and Garry outlined the challenges he faced in terms of dealing with the matter.

“That was the first time in my playing career that I have had a long-term injury, usually they have only been for knocks and niggles that meant a few weeks on the sideline,” he commented.

“I’ve been in the League of Ireland since I was 18 or 19 and I’ve never had to deal with an issue like this before.

“It was a bit of a journey into the unknown, I didn’t really know what to expect, there were days when it was very dark and depressing, you’d be wondering if there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I have never experienced the type of frustration and depression, until now, that can go with a long-term injury, but you have to try and stay positive and stay focused and all I want to do is get back playing.

“I had targets that I set myself, firstly, I wanted to get back on my feet, then I wanted to get back walking and after that I wanted to get back running.

“It can all play a bit negatively on your mind, it’s a mental type of thing I suppose, but you have to try to find something positive in a situation like that.

“Solely from my own perspective I saw that we were out of Europe and we were out of the FAI Cup and I was out of football, all in the space of a week, we were as good as out of the League title race as well.

“Difficult to imagine that I was able to take anything positive out of those facts, but that’s where I was at the time and that’s the way I had to look at it.

“It was the second half of the season and that meant it was a little bit different, from my perspective, than if it had been at the start of the season,” he added.

Then there was also the challenge of dealing with the arrival of a new baby.

Garry takes up the story again:

“Well, I’m engaged to Ciara, we will be getting married next year, we have a baby boy, Alvey, who was born a few months before I picked up the injury, and putting it quite simply, Alvey doesn’t deal with sympathy.

“I had my operation and then I came home, as I said, Alvey doesn’t give me much sympathy, but it was a great reality check, he doesn’t give me much time to be feeling sorry for myself.

“The only downside was for Ciara, she then had two babies to mind there for a while, but Alvey was a complete distraction and it was a good thing for me, I had to focus on what was really important,” he added.

Looking back to his early time in the League of Ireland and his success with Cork City, Garry explains that at one stage he was of the view that he would never leave the club.

“I suppose I never saw myself leaving Cork, I played under-age football with a Cork club Leeds FC and won a few local titles, I also played for the Cork Schoolboys League before joining Cork City under-19s for the 2011/2012 season.

“We had a good team and won a double and then I joined the senior side in the build up to the 2012 season.

Garry made his senior debut against Athlone Town in the FAI Cup in May 2012 and scored on his League debut away to Derry City in September of the same year.

“I had success with Cork City, but I thought it would never happen, we were always second to Dundalk, but then we won the FAI Cup in 2016.

“That was the best moment of my career at that point, winning the FAI Cup at the Aviva Stadium with Seanie Maguire, an ex-Sligo Rovers man, scoring the winning goal.

There was another Sligo Rovers man scored in a FAI Cup final for Cork City as well, Kieran Sadlier, I suppose I’ve reversed the trend a bit, a Cork City player going to Sligo Rovers, at least it stopped the one-way traffic, a bit.

“Kalen Spillane did it as well, he’s playing with Kerry now, it’s great to see another Munster team in the League, at one stage there was only Cork and Cobh, now there’s Waterford, Kerry and Treaty as well.

“That FAI Cup in 2016 was my first trophy, my first medal, I thought it would never happen, then we had more success and everything was going well, until it wasn’t.

“There was a lot going on with Cork City in 2019, a lot of managers, a lot of changes, I can’t really explain what happened but everything just seemed to get a bit stale, for everyone, I felt that I needed to get out of the environment.

“Neale Fenn came in as manager, he was the third manager that season, but nothing worked out, the club, everyone was sort of stuck in rut.

“ I’m pleased to see the club back in the Premier Division now, I’d love to be playing this weekend, but hopefully I’ll be back for the second half of the season and will get the chance to play then,” he added.

And the move to Sligo Rovers, that move in the opposite direction that Garry mentioned earlier, how did it come about?

“I got a call from Liam Buckley at the end of the 2019 season, I had a good idea what Sligo Rovers was like as a community club and I was willing to give it a go, I have to say, at this stage, I just love the place,” he commented.

“One of the highlights for me last season was the two wins against Motherwell, a Scottish Premiership team and we beat them twice, not too far behind it would be the win in the Showgrounds against Viking, but unfortunately, I was injured for that one.

“Viking almost made it to the Group phase of the Conference League, it just shows you that there are real fine margins in football and hopefully I’ll be able to help Sligo Rovers achieve more European success in 2024.

“Those European results just show the potential there is with Sligo Rovers, I suppose we just have to get the consistency into our game, we can win games, but we need to find consistency in our performances,” he stressed.

And what about the future and a possible central defensive partnership again with John Mahon?

“We complement each other so well, myself and John, but there is huge competition for places, Nando (Pijnaker), James (Finnerty), John (Mahon), Eanna (Clancy), it’s going to be a challenge for me to get back into that team.

“You know, football is very strange, one minute you are on a high and the next minute you are on a low, it all depends on the result, it can be very quiet coming home on the team bus after a defeat and it’s the exact opposite after a win.

“I’ve experienced both sides of the game, but you just have to pick yourself up and go again.

“As regards the future, it’s something I haven’t dwelled on too much up to now, but I suppose at this stage of my career it’s a consideration, but my total focus at the moment is getting back playing and that’s what I am concentrating on.

“My parents, Michael and Teresa, gave me tremendous support when I was growing up in the North side of Cork, make sure you get that right, the North side of Cork City, or we’ll all be after you and you wouldn’t want that.

“My mother said I was special and that’s why I’m Garry with two R’s and not Gary with one R, mothers are always right,” he concluded.