Dundalk's Brian Gartland wheels away in celebration after scoring his side's equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Shamrock Rovers. Picture: Ciaran Culligan
Dundalk centre-back Brian Gartland admitted that the 1-1 draw with Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night was very much a case of ‘two points dropped’.
The Lilywhites went behind when Gary Shaw took advantage of a bad mistake by Gary Rogers in the 34th minute and even though Dundalk battered the Hoops back four after that, all they had to show for their efforts was Gartland’s 59th minute equaliser.
The result leaves Dundalk five points clear of Cork City at the top of the SSE Airtricity League table but the Leesiders can reduce that to just two if they can win their game in hand.
“We’re disappointed and we definitely see it as two points dropped,” said Gartland afterwards.
“We go in looking to win every game, especially at home. We did everything but get the final ball right. We created loads of chances but we just weren’t clinical enough and we could live to regret that.”
Despite playing against AZ Alkmaar in Holland five nights earlier, Dundalk showed no signs of weariness and started on the front foot right from the the first whistle.
“There was a great tempo to our game. We passed it well and we had Rovers camped in their own half for long spells. They came to play the long ball and we dealt with it.
“We knew if we kept a clean sheet then we have magical players in the team who can score at the other end,” he added.
“It was unfortunate to lose the goal but we still had an hour to get two back, unfortunately we missed plenty of chances, myself included.”
Speaking about his fourth goal of the season, Gartland said that the delivery from Patrick McEleney left him with a simple task.
“I could have had a hat trick tonight,” he said ruefully, “and I was very annoyed with the chance I missed just before the goal. Patrick put in a great delivery and when it’s that good, there isn’t much for me to do.”
Dundalk’s frustration wasn’t helped by referee Rob Rogers waving away a couple of penalty appeals, notably by Gartland himself, and then, in the 79th minute, when Dane Massey went down under pressure from Dave Webster.
“There was a bit of grappling between myself and Ron Cornwall. He was looking towards the goal and the ball went the other way. That was hard for the ref to see, I suppose,” said Gartland.
“With Dane’s, I was at the other end of the pitch but it looked like he got a thug back in the box. The referee has booked him for diving but if he was pulled back, it’s a penalty.“
Next up for Dundalk is the visit of third placed Derry City to Oriel Park on Friday night. And with Cork City not due to play until Saturday evening, it’s another chance for Dundalk to put daylight between the sides and ramp up the pressure on John Caulfield’s team.
“Every game is the biggest of the season at this stage,” smiled Gartland. “We keep doing interviews and the next game is always the biggest. It’s going to be like that for the next five to six weeks until the season ends.
“I was hoping we’d kick on and get another goal tonight but it wasn’t to be. We just need to move on from this. We’ve a big game against Derry City on Friday night. We’re still five points clear at the top and it’s up to Cork to catch us.”