Dundalk's Brian Gartland admitted the side have been forced to pace themselves in a congested fixture list as they seek to navigate the final stage of the season.

The champions dispatched the league's bottom side UCD 3-0 in Oriel Park, all the goals being scored in the opening 40 minutes. 

With UCD afflicted by managerial instability and having shipped strikingly heavy defeats in recent league games, the Oriel Park crowd were perhaps expecting more goals. 

But the students managed to shut out the league leaders for the entirety of the second half and keep the scoreline respectable in difficult circumstances. 

"It was very strange and subdued," Gartland admitted to RTÉ Sport afterwards. 

"Everyone wanted a few more goals and a bit more attacking play. Even myself. Because I'm fresh and I had to remember when I was shouting at the lads that there was a good few out there that played 120 (minutes) on Friday night.

"I think we've played seven games in 20 days and we've another Friday-Monday, Friday-Monday coming up so we'll be up to 'I don't know how many' games. Another four would be 11 games in about 30 days.

"It's a congested fixture list and a lot of those were tough European games with travelling in between. We've a lot of away games now, we've got Waterford twice, Derry once, UCD on Friday.

"So, with all that travelling you've got to be understanding. The lads that are out there playing 120, they need to manage themselves. Sometimes when you've the game won, you've got to see it out and look after yourselves.  

"We're frustrated ourselves. We want to get more goals. At the same time, they came out in the second half with a completely different gameplan. Everyone within 40 yards of their own goal. It's a different game then."

Tonight's result means Dundalk's lead at the top of the table stretches to seven points with a game in hand over their nearest rivals Shamrock Rovers. 

Gartland insists there's still work to do, citing the upcoming Oriel Park six-pointer against the Tallaght side, but he says so long as they take care of their own business, a fifth league triumph in six years will be achieved.  

"There's nine games left. Rovers have one fewer (left). We've got to play them up here. There's a lot to play for. We'll just take it one game at a time. If we look for ourselves, we'll do the business. That's how we've always operated over the years. Hopefully, we'll do the job and finish off the league."