Gartland keen to end season on positive note
After the disappointment of last weekend’s FAI Cup final, Dundalk captain Brian Gartland is glad of the opportunity to end the season on high in this weekend’s Unite the Union Champions Cup.
The Lilywhites travel to Windsor Park in Belfast to take on Linfield tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm) in the first leg of the inaugural cross-border competition, before Monday’s return leg at Oriel Park (kick-off 7.05pm) rounds off the season.
The FAI Cup final is traditionally the final act of the League of Ireland year but, with this new competition pitting the champions against their Irish League counterparts, Gartland is pleased to have a chance to end the season on a more positive note and hopefully add another trophy to Dundalk FC’s 2019 collection.
“The cup final was obviously disappointing, but it’s great to have another game to bounce back into,” said the Dubliner.
“We have been on the losing end of cup finals before and you have to wait three months before another competitive game and it can eat away at you when you end the season on a sour note.
“So it’s brilliant that we have the Unite the Union Cup coming up… once we win it, then it will be brilliant.
“We have a bone to pick, we need to go out and put in a good performance against Linfield, finish the season on a high and lift another trophy.”
Vinny Perth’s squad head into the final weekend of their extended season after one of the best years in the club’s history.
With the SSE Airtricity League title secured in September, following the EA Sports Cup triumph earlier that month, the Lilywhites already have three trophies sitting in Oriel Park, including the President’s Cup, won at the start of the season.
The inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup gives them the chance to make that four, if they can overcome a strong Linfield side that showed their pedigree with a run to the UEFA Europa League play-off this summer.
The Northern Irish champions beat their Faroese counterparts HB Torshavn and FK Sutjeska of Montenegro to set up a play-off tie with Qarabag, who had knocked Dundalk out of UEFA Champions League qualifying just three weeks previous.
David Healy’s side shocked the Azerbaijani champions with a 3-2 win at Windsor Park before losing 2-1 in Baku to miss out on a group stage place on goal difference.
A number of Dundalk players watched the first leg of that tie in Windsor Park and Gartland says that know what to expect this Friday, both in terms of the venue and the Linfield side they will face.
“The are a good side and done very well in Europe this year. I watched them and they have some great talent,” said the 33-year-old.
“They have a great setup and stadium, so we are really looking forward to the game. There’s no doubt it will be a tough encounter over the two legs.”
Tickets for both legs of the Unite the Union Champions Cup are available now from Oriel Park.
Away leg tickets are priced at €15 / £12 adults and €10 / £8 concessions (child / OAP). Return bus tickets are also available, priced €10. Home tickets are usual matchday prices. Click here for further ticket information.
It has been confirmed that both legs of the tie will be televised, so if you are unable to make either game, you can now watch on TV.
Tomorrow’s first leg will be shown on Premier Sports (coverage starts at 7.30pm) with Monday’s second leg to be shown on RTE2 (coverage starts at 7pm).