Gartland – good to bounce back
Dundalk defender Brian Gartland was pleased to get back to winning ways at Oriel Park last night, with a comfortable win over Cobh Ramblers in the FAI Cup first round.
The 3-0 victory, which puts Dundalk into the last 16 of the competition, comes after a disappointing few days that saw the Lilywhites exit Europa League qualifying at the hands of AEK Larnaca and lose to Ramblers in the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup.
“It’s been a tough week,” Gartland told dundalkfc.com after the game. “It’s disappointing to lose any game, especially when we’re in such a habit of winning matches, but we bounced back tonight.
“We were a little bit nervy first half, but the win’s the main thing. I thought we got into our stride very well second half and that was what we’re really about.”
Dundalk started brightly, with Michael Duffy forcing a good save from Adam Mylod in the second minute, but the Lilywhites then struggled to find their rhythm in a frustrating opening half hour.
“They were organised and credit to them,” said Gartland, “but we were masters of our own downfall early on, with missed passes from a few of us – myself being the main culprit – in the first 25 or 30 minutes.
“We didn’t help ourselves, so that’s something we know we need to improve on from tonight. But we were more ourselves after that and we probably should have had a few more goals in the end, if we’d been a bit more clinical in the final third.”
Well-taken goals in each half from Ronan Murray bookended a composed Jamie McGrath finish to send the Lilywhites through and, whilst they weren’t always at their best, a place in Monday’s second round draw was the all-important outcome.
“The win’s the big thing,” admitted Gartland, captain of the side in the absence of Stephen O’Donnell through injury. “You can’t take anyone for granted. Shamrock Rovers and Bray have both gone out tonight, so the win’s the main thing to get through.”
Last week’s defeat in Larnaca was the first the Lilywhites had suffered in almost three months – a spell of 17 games unbeaten in all competitions that includes 11 straight league wins.
Whilst defeat was tough to take, Gartland knows the importance of looking forward and approaching the business end of the season with a positive mindset.
“It’s not the end of the world,” said the 31-year-old. “We won 16 games in a row and then we had a bad couple of days. It just happened to be in Europe and obviously that’s the big one, but we don’t dwell on it. We just look ahead now.”
“It’s a tough couple of weeks coming up. We’ve got three away games in the league, plus a cup game and then Rovers here, so it’s a massive couple of weeks for us.
“But that’s exciting. That’s what we’re used to going into this time of the season. If you want to win the league you’ve got to go through periods like this and win your games.”
Next up on Friday is a trip to Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League. After a hard-fought 2-0 win on Dundalk’s last trip to the Carlisle Grounds, plus a 0-0 draw on the opening game of the season, Gartland knows a stiff test awaits.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said the Dubliner. “They’ve got a new manager and they’ll be disappointed with going out of the cup tonight, so it won’t be an easy game. It’s never easy going to the Carlisle Grounds.
“We’re still a long way from the end of the season, so we’ll take it just one game at a time. Let’s just look after ourselves. If we do that, we’ll be happy.”