Knocklyon’s Gartland tips Kenny for big Irish success

by Stephen Findlater

NEW Dundalk captain Brian Gartland has tipped fellow Dubliner Stephen Kenny to be a success as Republic of Ireland under-21 manager.

Kenny, from Millbrook Lawns, got his rein in charge of the under-21s off to a winning start last week as a domestic-based selection saw off the Irish amateurs 1-0 in Whitehall.

Tougher challenges lie ahead as the 47-year-old leads the under-21s in the qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championships before taking over the senior job next summer.

Gartland assumed the captain’s armband in the off-season following the appointment of Kenny’s successor, Killinarden’s Vinny Perth, as Lilywhites boss.

And the Knocklyon native has backed Kenny to transfer the magic that brought four league titles and two FAI Cups in six years to the international set-up.

“He never let you get comfortable and he always kept you on your toes,” Gartland said at the launch of the League of Ireland season, which begins on Friday.

“He always had different methods of motivation, whether you knew of them or not. That’s instilled in a lot of players in the dressing room now and it won’t go away.

“It’s brilliant to see because he’s done such a phenomenal job over the six years with us. Even before, up in Derry, the amount of cups he won and the job he done rebuilding the club.

“He’s been great for Irish football and it’s great to see somebody in the League of Ireland be recognised to that category, with the international job.

“It’s also great for us as a club, and as a team, and as players, to see we were part of it and he’s ended up going there from it. It’s nice for everyone.”

Gartland got his captaincy off to the perfect start as the Lilywhites saw off Cork City 2-1 in the President’s Cup in Dundalk, lifting the trophy for the first time in three years.

And with St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers having strengthened significantly over the off-season, Gartland is adamant his side will take nothing for granted.

“We have this confidence, but there’s also a humbleness and a drive to succeed. There’s no player bigger than the team.

“You need a bit of an ego to have your confidence, but there’s no massive egos. People don’t get ahead of themselves and, if they do, they’re brought back in line.

“With that sort of recipe, it is a foundation for success. You don’t get comfortable or complacent. When your ego gets too big, you get complacent.

“You’ve won a game before you’re out on the pitch. That’s never the case with us. For every game, you apply yourself, whether it’s Cork, Finn Harps, you apply yourself the same.”

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