PETER Hutton’s love affair with the FAI Cup lives on as Derry City’s most decorated player guided the Brandywell club into this season’s Blue Riband showpiece at the Aviva Stadium last night.
The Derry boss boasts three FAI Cup winners’ medals as a player but he’s excited about getting the chance to lead his hometown club to victory as a manager next month.
Hutton was delighted after watching his side defeat Shamrock Rovers in dramatic fashion in last night’s semi-final replay at Brandywell.
And as he prepares for a repeat of the 2012 FAI Cup Final against St Patrick’s Athletic, he admits it will be a surreal experience to lead the club out at the Aviva.
“It would be absolutely fantastic to get a winners medal as a manager,” said Hutton. “I’m sure it will be a wee bit surreal walking out as a manager but we’re all going to look forward to it.”
Former City players, Felix Healy and Declan Devine both led the ‘Candy Stripes’ to FAI Cup glory in their first seasons as manager and Hutton would no doubt be delighted to repeat that feat.
However, he’s expecting a tough encounter against a St Pat’s side still reeling from that 2012 defeat as Liam Buckley’s men attempt to claim their first FAI Cup win in over 50 years!
“It would be nice,” said Hutton. “I’m delighted to be there. I said to the boys prior to the semi-final that it’s all about getting there.
“We’ve played St Pat’s on two occasions previously and I’m assuming they will be thinking it’s a case of third time lucky on their behalf but we’ll give them a game.
“Finals look after themselves whereas semi-finals are usually tight affairs. It’s a great celebration for the club and the supporters after what has been a turbulent season.
“So I’m delighted, absolutely thrilled,” said Hutton. “Not only for myself and the backroom team but for the players in particular. Their efforts and endeavour from the start of the season have been rewarded justifiably with a cup appearance.
“I think it will be a good game between two teams that like to play football. I think over the course of the season we should both know enough about each other and know the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.
“It’s important we see out the season and try and build a bit of momentum going into the final.”
The semi-final was a tense affair and Hutton claims he felt a mixture of relief and excitement once Michael Duffy eventually found the net with 60 seconds to go before Rory Patterson made sure of it with his seventh goal in five games in stoppage time.
“On the balance of play I thought we were fairly comfortable and it was relief mixed with excitement once Michael put us in front.
“We’re looking forward to the final but it’s great just to get there. Some of the boys have experienced it before so they’re excited and the new players - that’s what it’s all about, The sacrifices you make as you aspire to get to a cup final We’re there now.
“We thought it was never going to come. When we missed the penalty and they had a man sent off but thankfully Michael Duffy popped up with the goal and Rory scored with a fantastic strike to make it 2-0 and that just settled all the nerves.
“We have to have a bit of a reality check now because we have a game on Friday against Limerick but we’ll enjoy the night and look forward to the cup final.”