Tuesday 25 April 2017

Relegation fears lead to Derry exit for Hutton

Liam Buckley (left) and Tommy Dunne will both be hoping to get their hands on the EA Sports Cup on Saturday
Liam Buckley (left) and Tommy Dunne will both be hoping to get their hands on the EA Sports Cup on Saturday
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Derry City have parted company with manager Peter Hutton after getting dragged back into the wide open battle to avoid relegation.

They made the decision to speak with Hutton about his future in the aftermath of Monday's 3-0 defeat to Cork City in the FAI Cup quarter-final replay.

But it's the scrap at the bottom which has influenced the move for change. Derry are in tenth place, just three points off basement side Limerick, with six games to go.

A 2-0 loss at home to Drogheda last Friday week plunged Derry into serious difficulty; Paul Hegarty will take over as caretaker boss for Friday's visit of Shamrock Rovers.

Galway United are also part of that battle, and their manager Tommy Dunne hopes that the distraction of Saturday's EA Sports Cup final can be the catalyst for his club to make their presence felt in a competitive sports market.

A sell-out is expected at the Eamonn Deacy Park for the visit of St Patrick's Athletic.

The return of Galway to the top flight has coincided with a year where Galway's GAA teams have hogged the headlines and the growth of Connacht rugby is another attraction.

But Dunne has noted that the buzz is building around town this week, and he senses an opportunity to build their brand off the back of this opportunity.

"But since the end of the GAA involvement in the All-Irelands, ticket sales have gone through the roof and we're expecting a full house. I think it will be sold out before Saturday.

"There's a huge interest. Speaking to people around the town, guys are coming that haven't been for a while."

Avoiding

Dunne started the season with the aim of avoiding the drop with a young team that arguably won promotion a year ahead of schedule as United came back to life after a turbulent period for the sport in the City of Tribes.

His side have won friends this year by taking part in a series of high-scoring encounters, yet they are only four points off bottom spot with six matches to go.

"There's been a lot of positive feedback about the team and the way we're trying to play and the way we're trying to do things," he says. "But when you go through a period of losing games...you need to be winning to get guys to come through the gate.

"From our side, if we can get that bit of stability and stay in the Premier Division - which is going to be a tough ask - then I think it will bode well for the future."

St Patrick's Athletic boss Liam Buckley has welcomed last year's top scorer Christy Fagan back to full training this week as the Saints look to get their season back on track.

The dates for the semi-finals of the FAI Cup have been confirmed. Dundalk's encounter with Longford Town at Oriel Park will take place on Friday, October 2 at 7.25 with Cork's trip to Bray pencilled in for Sunday, October 4 at 2.00.

Irish Independent

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