They say that one man’s misfortune is another man’s gain and Dundalk centre back Paddy Barrett is hoping that will be the case following the injury to Brian Gartland.
Gartland limped off in Dundalk’s 2-0 win against Longford Town at The City Calling Stadium on Saturday night with a hamstring injury and Lilywhites manager Stephen Kenny has already earmarked Barrett as his replacement for this Friday night’s clash with Derry City at Oriel Park.
Since joining from Galway United in the summer, the Waterford native has had to bide his time on the bench. He has appeared just three times in the league - three substitute appearances totalling just 46 minutes of football. Starts in the EA Sports Cup and Leinster Senior Cup have kept him ticking over but for a man used to playing week in, week out, it has been a frustrating period.
“I’m obviously hoping the injury to Garts isn’t too bad but at the same time I’m hoping to be get in and catch the manager’s eye. I want to leave the gaffer with a headache,” he told The Dundalk Democrat.
“It has been tough watching from the bench but I can’t really have any complaints about not playing,” he continued.
“It’s not as though I can go and hammer the manager’s door down and ask why I’m not getting a game. The back four are answering that question, week in, week out on the pitch with their performances.”
Barrett knew that such a scenario could arise when he decided to move to Dundalk. His outlook, however, is refreshing, saying that he would rather be part of a successful squad than playing a major role with a lesser team.
“Coming from the First Division, I knew that I wasn’t going to walk straight into the team. The lads in the back four are the best in the country and league champions so I knew I wasn’t going to get straight in.
“I could be the first name on the team sheet somewhere else but if I play 10-15 games with Dundalk then I’d be delighted. I’m only 21 and to be part of this squad is brilliant.”
Dundalk’s red hot start to the season has left the likes of Barrett, Shane Grimes, Jake Kelly and Kurtis Byrne kicking their heels on the sidelines. The summer period however is busy and with Dundalk competing in six different competitions, Barrett said that Kenny has been reassuring those who aren’t playing that their time will come.
“He speaks to you a lot if you’re not playing, telling you not to get to downbeat and that he will need you,” said Barrett.
“It’s great to hear that from a manager. Most of the time, if you’re on the fringes, you don’t hear a word from the manager but Stephen is great and one to one he’s the best there is. I’ve spoken to him after games where i haven’t played and I’ve come away feeling like i’ve scored a hat-trick. He has that sort of effect on you.”
Not only is Barrett is working with the best manager in the business, but he feels, in Andy Boyle, that he is working with the best centre back in the SSE Airtricity League.
“I’m amazed at how good Andy is,” he said. “His approach to playing games and training is brilliant and he makes things look so easy. I’ve played with him a few times and he’s always helping you out, giving you this bit of advice. He’s a great captain and he’s definitely someone I look up to.”