Gart­land gun­ning for more glory

DOU­BLE DE­LIGHT FOR LI­LY­WHITES

The Argus - - SPORT - JAMES ROGERS

PRIOR to Sun­day, Martin Lawlor was the only Dun­dalk player to have won two dou­bles with the club hav­ing won the league and FAI Cup un­der Jim McLaugh­lin in 1978-79 and nine years later in 1987-88 un­der Tur­lough O’Con­nor. There are now nine new mem­bers of the ‘dou­ble dou­ble club’ who had pre­vi­ously won the league and cup with Dun­dalk in 2015. They in­clude Gary Rogers, Brian Gart­land, Gabriel Sava, Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Sean Gannon, John Mount­ney, St­pe­hen O’Don­nell and Ge­orgie Poyn­ton.

30-year tra­di­tion con­tin­ues

Dun­dalk FC have a great 30 year tra­di­tion with the FAI Cup. Hav­ing played their first match in the com­pe­ti­tion against Sham­rock Rovers in 1928, they went on to win it in 1958, 1988 and now in 2018. Roll on 2048 so! BRIAN Gart­land had barely put down the FAI Cup af­ter lift­ing it on Sun­day when his at­ten­tion had al­ready turned to fur­ther glory.

The cen­tre half, who cap­tained Dun­dalk to vic­tory at the Aviva Sta­dium on what was his 32nd birth­day, ad­mit­ted win­ning a sec­ond dou­ble in four sea­sons was ‘spe­cial’ but said it was some­thing he’d only ap­pre­ci­ate when the cur­rent jour­ney was over.

‘It is pretty spe­cial but make no mis­take about it, we’re aim­ing for more,’ he said.

‘We won’t rest and be happy with that. It’s bril­liant but I’ll look back af­ter I give up play­ing and lament on it then. There’s no pats on the backs or plau­dits now, it’s about go­ing to get more – more leagues, more cups – and this team has all the abil­ity, all the at­tributes and age on its side also to go on and win plenty of stuff.

‘Last year we had a bad start to the sea­son af­ter get­ting a lot of new play­ers in but from June on we were in great form. This year we were fly­ing and a lot of lads re­ally bed­ded in and found their feet. They’ll im­prove again go­ing on next year so I’m only ex­pect­ing bet­ter and bet­ter from us.’

Af­ter de­feats in the Cup fi­nal in 2016 and 2017, Gart­land said lift­ing the tro­phy on his birth­day was a great way to mark the oc­ca­sion.

‘It’s bet­ter than the last two any­way,’ he laughed.

‘My birth­day is al­ways ei­ther side of the cup fi­nal, ei­ther a cou­ple of days be­fore or af­ter. It’s un­be­liev­able though. It’s just such a great feel­ing but it’s hard to put it into words.

‘When you’re lift­ing the league, even though there’s a eu­pho­ria to it, we knew it was com­ing for a few weeks but with this to­day you’re in the na­tional sta­dium with a mas­sive crowd and you have to win on the day so that makes a dif­fer­ence.

‘I just love these games. I love big oc­ca­sions. These are games that you’re built for. It’s why you play foot­ball. That’s why you’re here, to play big games like this. Most of us rise to the oc­ca­sion. You’re sort of in your el­e­ment and you love it.’

Gart­land praised Sean Hoare for his open­ing goal but ad­mit­ted Dun­dalk shouldn’t have con­ceded so quickly from the restart.

‘We know Sean has got that in him. He’s like an NBA player, he has some leap in him. He has scored a few this year from that po­si­tion and it was a great header.

‘Our fo­cus maybe wasn’t what it should have been af­ter that but mis­takes are al­ways made. You only con­cede a goal if a mis­take is made. Gary nearly got to it as well but it just went un­der him. We’ve lifted the tro­phy, that’s what counts in the end.’

Asked where Pa­trick McEleney would come on a list of Dun­dalk play­ers he’d ex­pect to score a win­ning header, Gart­land laughed: ‘He wouldn’t be there.’

He added: ‘He can score from the half way line and he can score chips and he’d prob­a­bly do both be­fore I reckon he’d score a header but it was an ab­so­lutely bril­liant ball in from Ganno and the header was per­fect.

‘That’s ex­actly what you want. You just need to guide that home.’

The league and FAI Cup are now at home in Dun­dalk. In Gart­land’s head at least, the mis­sion of mak­ing sure they stay there next win­ter has al­ready be­gun.

Chris Shields, John Mount­ney, Ro­nan Mur­ray and Pa­trick Hoban cel­e­brate with the FAI Cup.

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