Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny lavished praise on his centre-back partnership of Andy Boyle and Brian Gartland following the Lilywhites’ 2-1 victory over Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Friday night.
Boyle put Dundalk ahead with his first goal for the club after just 76 seconds before Gartland, who has been outstanding since his move from Portadown in the transfer window, added a second with a carbon copy of Boyle’s goal 12 minutes later.
However it was their performances in the latter stages of the game that caught Kenny’s attention with both players standing tall like twin towers to keep Shelbourne at bay and ensure Dundalk keep the pressure firmly on leaders St Pat’s at the top of the table.
“I can’t believe how good Brian Gartland has been”, said Kenny afterwards. “He has been a fantastic signing for us.
“You never know how a player might settle in when you sign them mid-season”, he added. “It was pre-season for him after finishing up the season in the north and he never really played too many games in the Premier Division before but himself and Andy Boyle have been immense.”
‘Immense’ is certainly a fitting description for Boyle. The 22-year-old has been magnificent since arriving from Shelbourne at the start of the season with his performances earning him the label of ‘Mr Consistency’ from his manager.
Following the win in Drumcondra, the big games just keep on coming for Dundalk. Next up is a mouth watering showdown with reigning champions Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park on Friday. And Kenny feels that a Lilywhites win would send out a real message of intent.
“If we can beat Sligo, and we are well capable of that, then it will really lift the people of Dundalk and give us real momentum”, he said.
“People were referring to Sligo Rovers as ‘The Invincibles’ earlier in the season but there has been some turnaround and we’ve had a 15 point swing over them. They were 12 points ahead of us and now we’re three points ahead of them. It’s set up for a real good game.”
Oriel Park should be at fever pitch for the visit of the champions and Kenny senses that there is something special growing week by week.
“There is such euphoria at the club at the minute”, he said.
“This group of players have reawakened the passion for football in Dundalk and what you get is what you seen on Friday night in Tolka Park, nine coach loads of supporters making their way to Dublin, connecting with the team and cheering them on. “