Gartland gunning for more glory
DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR LILYWHITES
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.