PETER HUTTON has confirmed that striker Ciaran O’Connor is not permitted to play against his parent club Dundalk next week as stipulated in the loan agreement between the clubs, a ruling which poses a major headache for the Derry City boss ahead of next weekend’s clash.
The on loan striker made an instant impact as he came off the bench to replace the injured Patrick McEleney on Friday night and fired City in front on 53 minutes with a calm and composed finish. He then went on assist the in-form Mark Timlin for the second of his two goals to complete an impressive debut as City streamrolled past Galway United at Eamon Deacy Park.
And although O’Connor, who lacks match fitness, was called ashore on 73 minutes having run out of steam, his presence up front had a major bearing on the outcome of this match which resulted in Derry’s biggest win of the season and the club’s first back-to back successes since last August!
While Timlin took his season’s tally into double figures with a brace of goals - the first from the penalty spot - to justify Hutton’s decision to play him up front once again, the Derry manager faces a bit of a dilemma as to who partners the Buncrana man against the Lilywhites at Brandywell next Friday night.
Indeed, with O’Connor unavailable due to that clause in his loan agreement and McEleney expected to miss out with a rib injury sustained in the opening stages of the victory over Galway, Hutton’s options are limited.
Mark Quigley replaced Dean Jarvis on 84 minutes against the Tribesmen but the Dubliner has yet to start a match while Cillian Morrison missed Friday’s match due to a viral infection.
So Hutton concedes that O’Connor’s unavailability, given his impressive debut for the club, poses a major problem ahead of the visit of the league champions - his hometown club.
“Ciaran O’Connor did exceptionally well,” said Hutton. “Having watched him play for Warrenpoint last year we knew he had that physicality which he brings in the final third.
“He’s a great lad and a great character and what a composed finish when he was put through for his goal,” he added. “He literally ran himself into the ground so we decided to bring him off. He hasn’t played much with Dundalk given their U19s had finished for the season as well so there was no real opportunity for him to get games.
So it was just a case of a lack of fitness and he was cramping up a bit.”
And the Derry boss confirmed that the striker won’t be involved when Stephen Kenny’s troops roll into town on Friday.
“That’s part of the agreement that he can’t play against his parent club, so that will be a loss to us if indeed, Patrick (McEleney) is going to miss out which looks likely with that rib injury.
“Patrick got a nasty whack to his ribs, he even found it very difficult to breathe and run. We’ll have to get him assessed and hopefully it’s not too serious.”
O’Connor’s goal set City on their way in a one-sided second half while Timlin’s brace and a strike from Stephen Dooley sealed the win which eased Derry’s relegation fears. Hutton wasn’t best pleased with his side’s first half showing but he was encouraged by the second half display and the fantastic 4-0 win.
“First half we were a bit lethargic and didn’t play overly well but second half was much improved and we were by far the better team Mark took his goals extremely well again and he had a couple of other chances, so long may that continue.
“I know we’ve been criticised for not being able to score but we just needed the rub of the green which we weren’t getting.”