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From The Dressing Room: Brian Gartland

Dundalk FC Magazine
// 9 Sep 2020

Issue five of the Dundalk FC Magazine will be available to download on Thursday ahead of this week’s SSE Airtricity League game with Shelbourne at Oriel Park. In the latest instalment of ‘From The Dressing Room’, Lilywhites centre-back Brian Gartland reflects on an eventful couple of weeks.

It was important to get back to winning ways in Cobh recently. You can never underestimate a win, no matter who you are playing. You have to beat what is in front of you. The conditions weren’t the best and I think we adapted well. We conceded very few chances and probably could have had a couple more goals if we were a little bit more clinical in the final third. I thought it was positive and there was a great atmosphere and feeling about the dressing room and it’s great to have that back. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against, you can’t beat that feeling of winning together.

There’s no doubt it has been a strange period at the club, especially for the lads who have been here for the past seven or eight years. Things are completely different and it has taken a bit of getting used to but you have to take the attitude that this is football and anything can happen. We’ve seen that with players leaving over the years. Ultimately, you just have to get on with it.

Filippo and Giuseppe have come in and it’s been very good. They’ve been positive and that confidence is a great base to start off. They had a meeting with us on the first day and Filippo addressed the players. He told us what he wanted, how he wanted us to do it and told us the plan. They’re confident, organised, structured and know what they want. 

That’s important because the players did wonder about them. There’s no point beating around the bush. I saw one of Filippo’s first interviews and he wasn’t oblivious to that. Getting the job was a surprise to him. That’s probably a bit of the Irish mentality and it’s probably us being set in our ways a little bit because of the success we’ve had and the consistency we’ve had here. It’s important to have open minds and to give people a chance but that first impression is always vital and I thought that set the tone. He was very impressive and any fears or questions we had were answered. 

I didn’t know Filippo was a centre-back. I must try and find out what kind of centre-half he was! He’s played in Serie C which is a very high standard. You look at the likes of Kristan Adorjan – who we rated so highly – who came from there. Filippo has also been around different environments at academies and different professional clubs so it’s good to have new ideas and new ways. 

We’ve gone back to basics a bit in training which is no harm because the form we’ve been in, we have to build from the bottom up. Filippo is taking it stage by stage with us to implement the way he wants us to play. I like the way he’s doing it. He’s precise and clear in what he wants us to do and that’s a great base. We’ve got good players here and people don’t become bad players overnight. We’ve had a bit of a bad spell but there should be an improvement now.

There’s a positivity about the players, the club and all of the staff together. The situation we ended up in wasn’t ideal but we just have to get on with it now. It has been surreal for the past couple of weeks. We’ve never been in this position before over the past eight years and we don’t want to be in it again. We have to deal with it and make the best of it and that’s what the players are doing. We’re in nearly every day, we’re working our socks off and we want to finish the season off and do the best we can do in every competition.

We’ve drawn Inter Club from Andorra in the second round of the Europa League. It’s not being disrespectful to say that the draw is a lot better than what it could have been. There were some big clubs and big names in there so we can take a positive from that. At the same time, they’ll feel they could have got worse teams than us. They have a hell of a lot of internationals and they have a lot of experience on their side. A lot of them, have played international football so this won’t be new to them. Their seeding is low but they’ll be no walkovers. It’ll be a tough game and more than likely a very tactical game.