Finn Harps manager Peter Hutton was doing his best to draw on the positives after a difficult week for the Ballybofey club.
Hutton’s side lost by a goal to nil when Ben Ryan scored an 82nd minute winner for Waterford United at Finn Park, seven nights after director of football Felix Healy had resigned from his post at the club.
“It’s our Achilles’ heel,” Hutton said of his side’s inabilities to defend set-pieces in regards Ryan’s winning goal. “It’s very disappointing for the players themselves because they put everything in there tonight. There was a lot of endeavour and commitment and we created a few chances as well. We paid the ultimate price.”
With Derry City in the FAI Cup this coming Friday, Hutton is facing something of a striking dilemma. Kevin McHugh and Adam Clarke were both given straight red cards in the 3-0 loss against Wexford Youths and face three and two-game additional bans respectively. Hugh Carlin and Stephen O’Donnell are out for the rest of the season with cartilage injuries and Blain Curtis hobbled off with a twisted knee.
“They worked their socks off but we’re very light up front,” Hutton continued. “We found out before the game that Hugh Carlin is now out for eight months. He’s done his cruciate and torn some cartilage as well. His season’s over. Our entire strikeforce is on the sidelines and we’re down to the bare bones. It’s a body blow with such a small squad. I don’t know if Michael Owen is off but he might want some of the Donegal air!
“The players showed a great attitude all week but there’s a thin line between winning and losing but that’s football and sometimes you just have to deal with the hand you’re dealt. All the experienced players are now out. When you’re struggling you want them to pull you out but we’re going to stay positive.
“There’s no pressure on us going to Derry. It’s a local derby and all that entails. It’s something the boys can look forward to. It’s far from ideal but we’ll go and see what happens and hope to give a good count of ourselves.”
Hutton has played in all Harps’ four wins this term but resisted the temptation to name himself in the starting XI for Waterford. And although he believes it’s better for a player-manager to remain on the sidelines he hasn’t ruled out a return.
“I always maintained that you cannot do both,” he added. “You cannot see the general play but I’ll deal with it as needs must.