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Dublin: 1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

'I've never felt as low' - Dundalk captain Gartland on banishing the ghosts of a major setback

The Lilywhites defender took quite some time to get over a couple of high-profile mistakes on the European stage.

Brian Gartland and Artem Dzyuba We asked Gartland (pictured up against Zenit's Artem Dzyuba during the 2016 Europa League) to reflect on a low moment in his career. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

BRIAN GARTLAND HAS been one of the most successful players in Irish football over the past decade. 

Under manager Stephen Kenny, the defender became a regular at the heart of the Lilywhites’ backline soon after joining in July 2013 and he has gone on to win four league titles, two FAI Cup and two EA Sports Cups with the Louth club.

The Dubliner also starred in the Dundalk team that went on an incredible European run in 2016 — qualifying for the Europa League group stages before claiming an historic win over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Tallaght Stadium.

However, a couple of high-profile mistakes against Zenit St Petersburg and Maccabi proved costly and,  from a personal point of view, took some of the gloss off an incredible achievement.

In the first episode of our Gillette Pressure Points series, Brian returns to the club where he began his football education — Knocklyon United — to tell his story. 


“It was probably the lowest point of my career,” the 32-year-old says.

“That’s something that I had never experienced. We were at the pinnacle of Irish football and there were levels of scrutiny — from the fans, the public and the media — that we never had before. 

You’re representing your country, not just Dundalk, and I’ve never felt as low as then. My head definitely wasn’t right for the next few months. I was getting married a month-and-a-half later and even going up to that, I wasn’t my usual self.” 

It took some time, but with the help of inspirational words from a Dublin-born Australian Rules star, the late Jim Stynes, Gartland bounced back stronger than ever from the disappointment.

Although Dundalk played second fiddle to Cork City in 2017, last season saw the defender regain his place in the team after missing two months out through illness to captain them to a magnificent league and FAI Cup double. 

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