Peter Hutton has resigned from his position as manager of Finn Harps following tonight’s 3-2 win over Athlone Town in the Airtricity League First Division.
It had been rumoured all week that the Derry man was to part company with the Ballybofey club after 18 months in sole charge and the news was finally confirmed by Hutton himself when he met the local media for the post-match interviews.
The scene was a rather surreal one. Hutton, in the middle of a three-match touchline ban following his dismissal in the tempestuous 1-1 FAI Cup quarter-final against Drogheda United last month, was unable to go the clubhouse until an hour after the final whistle as part of his ban.
So, in his civvies from the terrace, Hutton gave his thoughts initially about the match itself and then about his own situation at the club.
Behind Hutton, a group of perhaps 20 Athlone supporters wearing sombreros, Penney’s Hawaiian t-shirts and Bermuda shorts kicked beachballs into the River End goal. Their team will lift the First Division trophy next weekend - win, lose or draw against neighbours Longford Town.
Hutton joked initially about the capers of the away supporters and their right to enjoy themselves. He then broke the news that he would not be manager of Finn Harps next season, or even next weekend against Salthill Devon in Galway.
His statement in full read:
“I wish to confirm that I am resigning from my post as first team manager of Finn Harps FC with immediate effect.
This is not a decision I have take lightly and have given it great consideration.
Due to recent developments I believe that it is no longer possible for me to fulfil this role to the level at which I feel is required.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Finn Harps FC for affording me my first managerial position; it has been a fantastic learning curve from which I have learned a great deal both on and off the field.
“I took great satisfaction from the team’s performances in reaching the FAI Cup quarter-finals, a feat not achieved in ten years and, but for a decision by the officials, could now be playing in a semi-final this very weekend.
“I am however disappointed more than anyone with how the season has evolved and if totally honest probably underestimated the task at hand.
“I did though thoroughly enjoy my time at Harps and met some great people and hope that some day in the near future they get to enjoy the success their loyalty and passion for the club deserves.
“I wish to particularly thank (chairman) Joey O’Leary and (former treasurer) Denise O’Neill, for whom I have great admiration. Their dedication and unwavering commitment to Finn Harps FC was one of the fundamental reasons as to why I decided to take up the post originally.
“(Board members)Seamus Gallagher and Sean Quinn I thank also for their continued support throughout my tenure. The aforementioned people, I believe, are the lifeblood of this club and their desire and determination to see this club reach its potential was unfortunately not matched by others.
“I genuinely hope that whoever follows me will be given the necessary resources both on and off the field to build this club and not just a team.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Finn Harps and in particular working with the players, to all of them, past and present,
“I thank for their dedication and commitment for little, if no reward. Also I’d like to thank the entire backroom team of Sean McGowan, Declan McIntyre, Mickey McGlynn, Daniel Nolan, Paddy Foy and not forgetting Mr Finn Harps, Terence Murray. I’d like to wish Tommy Canning good luck with the rest of the U-19 campaign with some very talented young players.
“I can only hope now that the two-year slog of developing the recently launched Finn Harps Youth Development Programme, of which I personally invested considerable time and effort in, and take great pride from, is continued in the manner as set out.
“Overall, I have enjoyed my Finn Harps experience and genuinely wish the club well in the future and whilst I would naturally have liked to depart on a more positive note I will leave with my integrity fully intact.
“All the best,
And so, Hutton and Harps part company again. The Ballybofey club are once more at a crossroads.