Ballinamallard United can tonight confirm the departure of two popular players ahead of the 2015/16 season - Feargal Murphy and Stuart Hutchinson
Feargal Murphy made 47 appearances for Ballinamallard United since returning to the club in 2011, twelve years after he had made a little bit of history as a member of Whitey Anderson's Under 13 squad in 1999 which won the club's first ever Brendan Keogh Youth League silverware. Feargal was a schoolboy international whilst at the club and after a spell away he returned as a member of Whitey's squad which won the IFA Championship 1 title in 2011/12 and created history again by getting promoted to the Premiership. He picked up an IFA winner's medal the following season too as a regular in John Quinn's Ballinamallard United II squad that won the Reserve League title. Feargal made his senior debut in season 2013/14 and over the past two seasons he shared the keeper's duties with first Alvin Rouse and then Stefan McCusker, making 36 appearances with a record of 1 in 3 clean sheets, and earning a number of Man of the Match awards.
Whitey Anderson commented on Feargal's departure, "I have known Feargal since he arrived to play for us way back in 1998/99 in our Under 13 youth team. He played in various youth teams at the club and gained international recognition representing the Northern Ireland Under 17 squad. It was a hard decision to let Feargal go given that I have known and coached him at various times over the years. Feargal was a popular player and character around Ferney Park and he can be proud of the part he has played in the progress of this club over the years. I wish him all the very best for the future."
Due to work commitments Stuart Hutchinson will not be available next season for the first time since joining the club about 18 years ago in the early days of our mini soccer centre. The departure of the midfielder - along with that of his uncle Brian Khan as Whitey's assistant manager who before that was a youth coach and even before that a player himself - brings to an end an an unbroken period of well over two decades in which the Khan/Hutchinson family have been closely involved in competitive football at the club.
Stuart came up through the youth ranks along with Chris Curran & Craig Hill playing a year young in Brian's successful 1990s squad. He made the breakthrough to the first team squad in season 2010/11 when he was a member of the F&W Intermediate Cup winning squad with brother Grant and won the coveted Under 21 Player of the Year award. He was an ever-present in the Championship 1 winning squad in season 2011/12 but injury during the second half of our inaugural Premiership season restricted him to 18 senior appearances. After career-saving surgery he made a further 67 appearances over the past 2 seasons and overall he achieved a total of over 140 first team appearances for the club before turning 24 in May. Stuart didn't score many goals but notably he scored in a Boxing Day derby against his brother, and he also scored the winner against Portadown in November 2013 in the first game against the Ports at Ferney after the heavy defeat at Shamrock Park earlier that season. Nevertheless, his surging runs from midfield created more than his fair share of free kicks from which goals came on many occasions.
Whitey Anderson commented on Stuart's departure, "Stuart will be a big loss as, without doubt, he could still be one of the best midfielders in the Premiership. He has been unfortunate with injuries but he was coming into his own last season and now unfortunately work commitments mean he won't be available to us next season. However, we have discussed the possibility of his return to the club if circumstances change. Stuart has played a big part in this club's progress and it has been a pleasure to work with him. He has been a favourite among both his peers and supporters and if a manager had 16 Stuart Hutchinsons in his changing room he would be on to a winner. I wish him well in the future."