Finn Harps manager Peter Hutton has suspended four of his first-team players for two weeks after they played in the Arranmore Challenge seven-a-side competition over June Bank Holiday weekend.
Shaun McGowan, James Doherty, Mark Forker and Paul McVeigh all played in the annual competition on the island against the wishes of their manager. In the 16-team competition, Doherty and Forker’s Real Lypis defeated a Damo’s Dream team that included McGowan and McVeigh 3-2 in Sunday evening’s final.
Following a Monday night meeting with Hutton, the four were informed that they would be suspended from playing and training with Airtricity League Division One club Harps for a fortnight.
“I’m fuming to be honest,” Hutton admitted yesterday. “All players were warned at the start of the season that they were not permitted to play in summer cups or GAA or any other sporting activity because of the risk of them picking up an injury. I’m very disappointed.”
Hutton re-iterated his stance following Harps’ 2-1 FAI Cup second round win over Wexford Youths on Friday night and then text every one of his playing staff afterwards reminding them not to participate.
Since only McVeigh started that night, part of Hutton’s grievance was the fact his players’ absence over the rest of the weekend meant they were unavailable for selection for Harps’ Ulster Senior League encounter against Cockhill Celtic - a match won 4-1 by the Inishowen side at Finn Park on Sunday.
“It’s something I’ve spoken about from pre-season and after telling them and then texting them as back-up on Friday night, I felt the players were well warned and aware there would be repercussions.
“We’re trying to change the mentality here and what happened is a backward step. We’ve a young squad here and can do without the likes of what happened. We’re trying to conduct ourselves in as professional a matter as possible. We have standards here.”
Harps return to league action on Saturday night with Roddy Collins’ Athlone Town come to Finn Park. Hutton’s team then travel to Drom to face Salthill Devon on Friday, June 14 in the final match before the two-week midseason break.