Finn Harps manager Peter Hutton admitted he was in shock following director of football Felix Healy’s surprise resignation after Friday night’s 3-0 loss at Wexford Youths.
Healy decided to part company with the Ballybofey club citing work commitments but Hutton will continue in his role as first team manager alongside Sean McGowan, the club’s assistant manager who also took Harps’ U-19 side to the Dr Tony O’Neil U-19 Championship Northern Section title this season.
“It was disappointing to hear Felix made the decision on Friday night,” Hutton said yesterday. “He told us after the game in Wexford that he just cannot give the commitment to the level he would’ve wanted and felt it was best to leave now.
“It was a bit of a shock to myself and the players and Felix told our chairman Joey O’Leary over the phone. In terms of the football club, the management structure has lost its director of football but myself and Sean will continue.
“Felix brought me to Harps just over a year ago now and we have always had a good relationship in football, playing and coaching, since our time in Derry. We felt as though we were making progress slowly but surely, although the results of late haven’t been good. It’s disappointing to see him go.”
Healy was unavailable for comment last night as he was working with Setanta Sports for the Setanta Sports Cup final between Derry City and Crusaders at the Oval in Belfast. He will, though, release a statement in the coming days to explain his decision.
“We feel we have enough experience at the club with Peter and Sean to continue,” chairman Joey O’Leary said of the club’s plans without Healy. “It was a bit of a bolt from the blue to hear Felix’s decision on Friday night but he explained his reasons and it’s fully understandable. He came back from an extended break from football to take over here and fully understood the financial constraints we have to work within. He was good for the club.
“We will have a talk with Felix in the coming days and he will release a statement then. Everyone at Finn Harps wish him the best and thank him for the service he gave to the club.”
The inexperienced Harps squad have picked up 12 points from 11 matches this term but have lost four games in succession. Following defeats at the hands of Limerick FC, Mervue United Athlone Town, nine-man Harps went down 3-0 against Wexford Youths on Friday night with Kevin McHugh and Adam Clarke both receiving straight red cards for off-the-ball incidents. Harps welcome Waterford United to Finn Park on Friday.
The nine men were in contention for 87 minutes, trailing only to Tom Elmes’ 64th minute opener, but were caught late in the game twice when Danny Furlong and Aidan Keenan put a more comfortable look on the scoreline.
“I have no qualms about the referee,” Hutton, whose side sit third from bottom in the Airtricity League First Division, said of match official James McKell. “The nine lads on the field, and indeed the substitutes, played exceptionally. With two men off we decided we had to go for it and ended up getting punished.”