'He's got all the attributes -- his leap, his athleticism, great right and left feet, going forward and defensively'

Dundalk defender Brian Gartland was singing the praises of Sean Hoare after last night’s man-of-the-match display against Bohemians.

Gartland (left) is among the players to congratulate Hoare after his goal.
Gartland (left) is among the players to congratulate Hoare after his goal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TWELVE LEAGUE WINS, 12 clean sheets and a 12th Premier Division goal for Patrick Hoban.

All-in-all, a productive Friday night at Dalymount Park for Dundalk, who remain top of the table thanks to their 2-0 victory over Bohemians.

The league’s top scorer had taken less than four minutes to break the deadlock, but Keith Long’s side kept within touching distance and a number of missed chances meant the three points were only sealed when Sean Hoare doubled their lead in the 83rd minute.

“We got off to a great start but they always have their tails up here,” Lilywhites defender Brian Gartland told The42 afterwards. “They’re good at home and, especially when we play against them, they are hard to break down and their work-rate is very good.

“We were the creators of our own downfall at times, giving the ball away sloppily and not winning our first headers. They set up in a different shape that we’re used to playing against them [five across the back] and got a couple of runners in behind. Shieldsy [Chris Shields] had to clear one off the line.

“I thought in the second half we really showed our attributes in terms of keeping the ball and staying patient.

We missed a heap of chances, I don’t know how my header bounced that high. You head it down into the ground and a lot of the time it’s hard for the keeper to react. There are a few mountains in that goalmouth and it just hit a hump!

“Sean got his first league goal and I’m delighted for him. We kept the ball excellently in the last 15 minutes. Krisztian [Adorjan] came on and Shieldsy was brilliant along with Jamie McGrath.

“When you’re 1-0 up, it’s easier to be with the ball than without it and that showed a good bit of class from us. But I thought we were a bit leggy tonight, so it was great to get the win and the clean sheet when you’re feeling tired.”

Sean Hoare scores their second goal Hoare rises highest to head home the second, with (centre) Gartland watching on. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dundalk have conceded just eight goals in 12 league matches so far and 24-year-old Hoare has been immense at centre-half this season — often alongside Daniel Cleary but also partnering Gartland and Stephen Folan.

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Last night, the former St Patrick’s Athletic defender was deployed at right full-back with Sean Gannon still recovering from broken ribs. Hoare put in a man-of-the-match display both defensively and in attack, where he was a constant threat before getting on the scoresheet.

“He was our out ball all night and we made sure he got on it,” added Gartland. “He did so much going forward and it’s great for him. It’s not easy going out to right-back when you’re a centre-half, but he’s got all the attributes — his leap, his athleticism, he’s quick, a great right and left feet, going forward and defensively.

So it was great to see and it’s brilliant that we have cover like that in every position. If anyone is missing there’s someone to come in and the team doesn’t drop its standards.”

Having missed the opening two months of the season through injury and illness, 31-year-old Gartland has put that run of bad luck behind him with 90 minutes in each of the last five league outings. Ahead of a busy schedule in the run-up to the break starting with Monday’s clash against Waterford at Oriel Park, the Dubliner feels that he is getting back to his best.

“I’m getting there,” he says. “It’s frantic when you go from not doing much for a couple of months to the point now where we’ve got a hell of a lot of games.

“You feel like you’re getting fitter but then there are times you get tired. We’ve got a few more matches before the break and they’re massive so we want to keep this run going and pick up clean sheets so we have the best defensive record.”

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