Proud Hutton insists the future for squad is bright
Peter Hutton believes his young Derry City team can use the hurt of yesterday's FAI Cup final to St Patrick's Athletic to achieve success in the future.
Hutton addressed his players on the Aviva Stadium pitch immediately following the final whistle yesterday, after two Christy Fagan goals condemned his side to heartbreak.
The Candystripes boss knows all too well the pain of defeat, with yesterday being the fourth FAI Cup final loss of his storied career, and he knows the importance of hitting back from such devastation.
"I'm bitterly disappointed," he said. "It was a very tight and cagey game and I think the first goal was always going to be crucial. Unfortunately for us, we conceded a very scrappy first goal but the boys showed their character and we rallied and put it up to St Pat's and, with a break of the ball, we could have got an equaliser. But that's the nature of the beast, unfortunately. I'm still immensely proud of the players. I can't fault their effort."
Hutton admits that the timing of the first goal was vital with his team beginning to gain a foothold following a difficult first half.
"The first goal we conceded came at a critical stage because I thought we were just getting into the game at that stage," he said. "It took a deflection on its way in, which was disappointing, but we did rally after that and put it up to Pat's but unfortunately we couldn't get that equaliser.
"St Pat's are a good team with a lot of quality in their side and it's been well documented how long they have had to wait for the cup, so I hope they enjoy their night."
With the majority of City's squad still in their early twenties, there could be many more FAI Cup Finals in the future and Hutton was at pains to point out that there will be success in the years to come if they continue to progress as they have been doing.
"I've told them that I'm immensely proud of them; even getting here was a fantastic achievement in a very turbulent season," he continued.
"Unfortunately there always has to be a loser in the final but it will be a great learning experience for a lot of them. For some it's their first cup final, for some it's their first cup final defeat, so it's an experience, but fortunately the future is bright for them and it's just important now that we keep this squad together. We've built a decent squad now and we want to keep it together."
The Brandywell gaffer will sit down with the club's board of directors soon to discuss the future of several of those young stars but he is hoping that if he can keep the majority of the squad together for next season, the Candystripes can bounce back in style.
"Unfortunately no one remembers the losers but you have to keep at it and learn from it and if they do that they can do well," he said.
"We want to keep this squad together and hopefully we can do that."
St Patrick's skipper Ger O'Brien found the words to sum up the meaning of an emotional afternoon in Ballsbridge for a community club from Inchicore.
"There's grown men in their 60s and 70s crying out there," said the full back, with the look in his own eyes hinting that a childhood Saints fan, with a family steeped in the club, might also have shed a tear.
This was the end of a famine, an overdue success which will change the narrative of future FAI Cup tilts. No longer will the year 1961 define the Saints' relationship with this competition.
"When we see you guys, we tell you the weight wasn't there," smiled O'Brien, "But it felt good lifting that trophy."
"This is the Holy Grail," smiled defender Kenny Browne, seconds after receiving a bear hug from Brian Kerr, a veteran of previous disappointments, en route to the dressing room.
It would be wrong to describe the St Patrick's Athletic celebrations as wild. If anything, there was a sense of relief and contentment which hung in the air.
Their owner, Garrett Kelleher, who assumed control in 2007, was there in the heart of the party.
"It's a real family club," said the businessman.
"The journey has been phenomenal. I'm a bit teary eyed myself.
"It's not a monetary thing, I'm not in it for financial reasons. I never have been.
"This is the best day I've had in my time at Pat's I can't believe it. After seven [final] losses over 53 years, this is huge."