Wednesday 28 September 2016

Gartland raring to go for title run-in

Dundalk v Derry City, live, RTE2, 7.45

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:30

Brian Gartland pleased to be back in contention for a starting place in the Dundalk line-up after suffering a broken wrist. Picture: Sportsfile
Brian Gartland pleased to be back in contention for a starting place in the Dundalk line-up after suffering a broken wrist. Picture: Sportsfile

Dundalk defender Brian Gartland says that eating well and a good night's sleep is the simple but effective solution to coping with fixture congestion.

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The League of Ireland champions are in action again tonight when they welcome Derry City to Oriel Park just three days after their draw with Shamrock Rovers at the venue. Stephen Kenny's side face a challenge to fit in all of their remaining league matches ahead of the season's end on Friday, October 28 with FAI Cup and Europa League commitments to fit into the schedule.

And league director Fran Gavin admitted on Wednesday that a semi-final replay in the cup or the cancellation of any fixture due to weather could lead to a mini extension of the campaign.

Gartland has no complaints about the schedule as he is just pleased to be back in contention after a broken wrist left him on the sidelines for the Champions League section of the European run.

Heartened

But he was heartened by Dundalk's energy levels against Rovers and feels that living right is a big factor in how the Louth club have performed.

"I am raring to go now after five weeks without a game," says the Dubliner. "It's better than training, it's just game/recover, game/recover.

"If you're not in one of the games you get a blow-out, keep your fitness up, make sure you are right, eat well and sleep is massive.

"It's not too uncommon for us, we have had periods like this over the last few years, maybe not as long as now, but we will deal with it and we won't complain, it's the price of success.

"We looked well on Tuesday and had a great tempo to the game. That's down to the professionalism of the players and the staff, everyone behind the scenes, the preparation for games, Vinny Perth's video analysis, there's no stone left unturned. We're never caught out but it comes down to the players in the end, the recovery and the discipline. You can't be putting crap in you; if you do that's when you will be cramping up and falling short."

Dundalk can extend their lead at the top to eight points with a win over third-placed Derry, but they would have two games more played than Cork.

The Leesiders are in Sligo tomorrow and then host Galway on Tuesday and Gartland knows that putting pressure on John Caulfield's charges is essential.

He also is conscious that Cork's visit to Oriel Park - which is yet to be pencilled into schedule - is the date in the diary when Dundalk can do themselves a favour without wondering about other results.

"The pressure is on Cork to catch us," he stressed. "If we win that game against them it's massive although depending on how the table is when that game comes around - it could be whether you don't lose it or win it but we never go into games not to lose them.

"We will know in the next week or two when that game will be and we have enough to keep us busy. It's brilliant going away for the European games and we're getting pats on the back after last Thursday in Alkmaar but we want to win the league again. That's the priority."

Elsewhere tonight, hurling star Lee Chin could make his debut for Wexford Youths at home to Bray. He will come into contention as Shane Keegan assesses the fitness of his injury-hit squad.

Irish Independent

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