DFC | Gartland to miss Sligo Rovers game with back injury

Kenny labels his team’s defending in Tallaght as ‘unacceptable’

Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny, pictured during the 2–1 defeat in Tallaght on Friday night. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Dundalk FC centre-back Brian Gartland will miss this Friday night’s home game with Sligo Rovers with a troublesome back injury.

The 30-year-old was named on the bench for the 2–1 defeat against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght but speaking afterwards, Lilywhites boss Stephen Kenny refuted suggestions that Gartland was dropped and said that his absence was injury — and not form — related.

“Brian has had an issue with a nerve problem in his back,” said Kenny. “He has been playing on it but hasn’t been right. Tonight, we went with players who are fully fit.
“He’s having an injection under an ultrasound on Monday which will rule him out of next week,” he continued.
“It’s just one of those things. He would have played but he has been finding it difficult to fully sprint. I felt it was better to play players who are fit.”

On the other hand, Kenny confirmed that the decision to leave Chris Shields and Jamie McGrath on the bench was tactical. Shields did play 57 minutes after coming on for Stephen O’Donnell, who was treated for possible concussion afterwards.

Reflecting on the defeat to Rovers, Dundalk’s fifth in 12 games, Kenny branded his side’s defending as ‘unacceptable’.

“We conceded two poor goals from our point of view, one from a throw in and one from a corner kick which is completely unacceptable. That’s not what we’ve built our success on.
“The cornerstone of our success was never conceding from set plays. We had this culture of not doing that so to concede goals like that from our point of view wasn’t good at all.
“The last two weeks, against Galway and now against Rovers, we’ve just given poor goals away and if we do that we’re giving ourselves a very difficult task in the games.
“We couldn’t get any fluency in our play in the first-half,” he added. “Second half we played a lot better and got into wide areas but our crossing from wide positions — on both sides — was very erratic.”

The result leaves the reigning champions in third place, one point behind Bray Wanderers and 15 behind leaders Cork City.

The Lilywhites’ hopes of four-in-a-row are all but gone but Kenny said that his sole concern at the minute was getting Dundalk back to winning ways against the Bit O’Red on Friday night.

“To be honest, I’m not even looking at Cork and that’s in all seriousness,” he said. “ We’ve just got to get ourselves right and we’ve got to get back on track.
“We’ve always had great away form, that’s been one of our strengths, but this year we’ve lost four out of six and that’s been poor really.
“We’ve lost two games in a row now so we can’t think about that (Cork City) and we’ve got to focus on beating Sligo now. That’s obviously a huge game.”
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