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Gartland: Lilies have belief to overtake St Pat's and win league

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Dundalk's Brian Gartland. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Dundalk's Brian Gartland. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Dundalk's Brian Gartland. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

THEY are the most in-form side in the country, and Dundalk defender Brian Gartland feels that his team have the ability to build on that and improve on last season.

Seeing as they finished second in the league table behind champions St Pats, the only way Dundalk can better last season is by winning the title for the first time since 1995.

"We want to go one better and if you don't have that ambition then you have no place in our dressing room," says Gartland, the much-travelled defender who joined Dundalk from Portadown last summer.

"We came second in the league and pushed Pat's as much as we could for the league. I am not saying that we will definitely win the league. I think the race this season is a lot more competitive with more teams capable of winning it, but we know what we are capable of as a team and as a group," added Gartland as Dundalk prepare to welcome Bohemians to Oriel Park tonight.

Oriel Park is a happy place these days, with four straight wins (Limerick and Sligo Rovers in the league, Coleraine and Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Cup) helping Dundalk fans to forget that miserable start to 2014.

"There is a great mood around the place, around the town, at the moment. We had a bad start, lost the first two games and conceded a lot of goals," says Gartland, referring to a 3-2 loss to Coleraine in the Setanta Sports Cup and then an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to Drogheda United in the opening game of the league campaign.

"But we knew it was only early on in the season, we had new players who needed time to bed into the side and the manager's way of thinking. We have managed to get into a good rhythm and routine now and you can see that in the results.

FORM

"I still feel as if we are not playing at our best, there is more to come from us, but that's the case across the league, no team has hit top form yet, you have a lot of clubs where there is a new manager in place as well as new players."

When Dundalk lost so heavily to Drogheda on the opening night of the league season the question was posed as to whether Dundalk were a one-season-wonder but Gartland has been pleased by the response.

"I didn't play in the Drogheda game, and I was frustrated that I wasn't in the team, so it's not fair for me to comment on other players," he says. "But we were gutted to lose so badly in a derby game, we have such a strong squad that we were able to bounce back and we have done that. I know from the texts I was getting that some people were panicking but we didn't show any panic in the dressing room, we stayed strong and recovered well."

Dundalk had a moan – justifiably so – over their fixture list last week as they had to play two away games in the space of 48 hours, but the effort was rewarded as Kenny's men won away to Sligo Rovers (in the league) and Shamrock Rovers (Setanta Cup).

TOUGH

"Beating Rovers in Tallaght on Monday was great for us," says Gartland. "Bohs tonight will be a tough game, Paddy Kavanagh is a great signing for them, they are strong at the back with Derek Pender and Aidan Price and Dinny Corcoran is banging in the goals, it's a tough game for us."


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