Brian Gartland knows Dundalk are on a hiding to nothing in Andorra on Thursday.
If Filippo Giovagnoli’s side beat Inter Club d’Escalades then it was a result that was expected of them. If they don’t then it’s back to crisis mode at Oriel Park.
It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.
Nevertheless given the experience many of Adolfo Baines’ side have playing at international level, Gartland says Dundalk cannot afford to take them for granted on Thursday.
Nevertheless after playing a key role in Friday night’s 3-2 win over Shelbourne, the 33-year-old centre half feels the mood is moving in the right direction at Oriel Park ahead of their return to Europe.
“These are the games in the year that it’s in that are dangerous. One-off ties change the dynamic of it. They’re a lot more tactical. It can go in your favour or against you.
“We haven’t looked ahead to Inter Club because I think it’s the right thing to do. You just focus on your next game and by doing that and performing well and winning you’re building confidence and making steps to where you want to be.
“I was critical before that we were looking ahead to Europe when we had two games before it in the Cup and in the league. You can take your focus off them then and I think if we had applied ourselves in that Waterford league game then maybe we’d have a couple more points and then maybe all of a sudden if a couple of results go your way then you’re right in the mix or you’ve a different angle going into that Sligo game.
“Now that we can look ahead to Inter Club we’ll do a lot of work on them. Shane Keegan and the management have done a lot of work since the draw and this weekend will be about doing all our classroom stuff on them and then we’ll try to apply that on the pitch once we know where we’re at.”
Gartland said it was good to be back to winning ways in the league ahead of Europe given the side had not won in the league since it restarted at the end of July.
“We’re back to winning ways and I thought the performance was good in a lot of parts. It was very positive. We moved the ball well, we started the game with an intensity and went at them and opened them up and created good chances.
“We’ll always be critical thinking we can do a bit more and we can because there’s always room for improvement but we’ll take the positives out of that and I thought we looked back to ourselves a bit in terms of how we moved the ball and the way we attacked.
“We just wanted to go out and enjoy our football. When you’re enjoying it you’ll play the way you want to play, which is attacking. We’ve been trying to implement new styles in terms of our attack and defence under the new management but I thought tonight was positive. Like I said, there’s lots of room for improvement but it was positive.”
Gartland scored his 50th career goal on the night but revealed he is targeting at least three more to bring him to the 40 mark for Dundalk.
“I’m delighted with it,” he said of his landmark.
“The next short goal is to hit 40 for Dundalk. I’d love to do that. I’m only a few off that now but I probably should be at it already given a few of the misses in the last couple of years.
“I was delighted to score but then on the other end of it we’re pretty annoyed about conceding two goals from set pieces in quick succession. We were well in control of the game but we just need to be smarter when we’re in that position but again it’s a bit of a sign of the luck we’ve had at times this season. Usually you get it for you but the little decisions just seem to be going against us in games like this. Usually some of those go for you but I thought it was brilliant, especially after that peno, that we just went back to playing our game and we knew if we kept doing that in the second half that the goal would come and it was a cracking strike from Greg.
“Mickey’s goal was tremendous as well but it was a cracking strike from Greg and I thought we could have had a couple more.”
Gartland said the mood around the camp was much more positive now than when they were preparing for their last European outing against NK Celje.
“It’s a completely clean slate for everyone now. There’s no prior relationships or preconceived ideas of people.
“Football is all about opinions. All the players see the game differently and so do the fans. It’s the same with managers and coaches. It is nice for players to have a clean slate but it’ll also be frustrating for other players when it doesn’t go their way but we’ve seen everyone get their chance so far and Filippo has said everyone will play their part in the season to come. It’s interesting times but it’s positive. We’ve two wins now and the mood has lifted,” he said.