It’s been quite a few weeks for Brian Gartland.
Another medal is in the bag for the EA Sports Cup, another league title was wrapped up, his birthday weekend was booked at the Aviva Stadium for the fifth year in-a-row for the FAI Cup final and the debut album from his favourite singer Dermot Kennedy was released. Oh, and he became a father too.
Jokes aside, the latter ranks higher than any achievement he has had on the pitch in recent years.
Little Bobbie Gartland was born in the early hours of last Tuesday October 1st and his daddy couldn’t be prouder.
For all Brian has achieved on the pitch, the birth of his first child with wife Bronagh has given him a new impetus.
Now he dreams of following in the footsteps of many of his team-mates and having Bobbie on the pitch with him celebrating an FAI Cup win next month.
Before all that though, the 32-year-old club captain admits he has work to do to ensure his place in the side for the November 3rd showdown with Shamrock Rovers.
“Bronagh gave birth to the baby early on Tuesday morning and it’s a surreal feeling,” Gartland said of his new status as a father.
“It’s brilliant. I’m just itching to get home now any time I leave the house, I just can’t wait to get back to see him. It has been an unbelievable week.”
The centre half admitted that he has already thought about the prospect of getting a picture with Bobbie in the Cup on the Aviva Stadium pitch, just as so many other players have done over the years.
“It’s something there in the back of my head,” he admitted.
“Other lads have experienced it. I remember with Dane (Massey) last year and I ran over with the Cup and said get a picture with Georgia in it and I’d love to have that myself but first and foremost I’ve got a job to do to try get in the team over the next few weeks.
“I’ve a good record of performances over the last few years and I know I haven’t played for the last few weeks but my last two performances have been good so I need to build on that and the games to come to push my way into the team. We’re all good enough to be in that team but I want to be there, I want to be playing and I want to lead this team to that Cup.”
With four centre halves vying for just two positions, Gartland is aware someone is going to be hurt when Vinny Perth names his Cup final team next month. He’s just hoping it isn’t him.
“We’ve all been through that. The last few games were massive games and I didn’t get a sniff so I’ve been as hurt as any footballer would be that way but I’ve just got to concentrate on the next couple of games and hopefully I’ll have them moments in the Cup final but I won’t have them if I’m not involved so it’s about putting the little bits together first to get there.”
While the title is already in the bag for Dundalk, a tough run-in is sure to keep the side on their toes and Gartland and co are anxious to keep their run of 31 domestic matches unbeaten going for as long as possible, starting with this Friday’s trip to face Bohemians at Dalymount Park.
“When the fixtures come out at Christmas everyone always looks at the start of the season but I always look at the end and if you were in a title race now we have really tough fixtures and the mindset changes because Rovers have largely bottom half teams to play.
“It’s brilliant that we have it wrapped up but it’s also great that we have those games to play against top teams to keep us sharp going into the Cup final.”
Indeed, Dundalk are determined to break a couple of records in regards to points gained and clean sheets kept in the three remaining matches.
“We’ve never been shy about it over the years. We don’t go out saying we want this record and that record. We just want to win everything but when you get to this stage of the season and you’re doing so well, people like yourself always say to us you’re on target for this and that. Then when we hear that we say let’s go for it. That then becomes the next goal and you’ve got to set these targets to hit because it gives you a bit of motivation.
“We’ve always said we want to go down as one of the best teams but we just want to keep winning and these are goals that will make you reach other targets of silverware if you can hit them. It’s nice to have any accolade that you can have. We’re a bit greedy that way.
“I didn’t know that no team had hit 90 points and like you say one more clean sheet and Gary (Rogers) will equal a record. He won’t be happy with just equalling it, he’ll want to get past it but so will all the other defenders and the team because we defend from the front. There’s another target now for the next three games,” said Gartland.