ONE man’s misfortune is another’s gain and the case of Gary Warren and Danny Devine highlights the accuracy of the saying.
Warren’s caution in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic has caused the Inverness Caledonian Thistle central defender to miss a second cup final in the space of 15 months.
It’s a horrible feeling coming second and we definitely want to put that rightDanny Devine
It has also opened the door for Devine to claim a previously unforeseen place in Caley Thistle’s starting X1 against Falkirk on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Irishman has made only ten first-team appearances this season, seven of them in the starting X1, a situation Devine admits is hardly ideal approaching the biggest match in the club’s history.
However he began readying himself the moment that Warren collected the yellow card that shattered his dream of cup glory for a second time after he was red carded in last season’s League Cup semi-final victory over Hearts and lost a subsequent appeal against his automatic ban.
Devine said: “Once Gaz picked up that yellow card I knew there was a big chance I would be playing and, from that moment on, I started to prepare myself mentally and physically.
“I’ve been trying to stay fit and sharp and playing a few games recently I’ve felt the sharpness coming back.
“I would like to have had a lot more game time but with the team’s form and the way Josh [Meekings] has played at centre back, it has been tough for the likes of myself.
“But you have to be ready for situations like this and all the players who haven’t played as much this season still train hard every day to stay fit because anything can happen in football.
“It just shows you, with suspensions or injuries, players can get their chance and you need to be ready when the chance comes.
“It’s a similar situation to last season with players missing out, unfortunately. But I’m sure Gary will still have a big role to play. He is a top professional and a very experienced player and he will be there supporting the lads and handing out advice.”
Devine dares to dream that fate will cast him in the role of Hampden hero, given the circumstances that propelled him into the firing line.
“Hopefully, it’s got winning goal written all over it!” he said. “I have not scored many and the only time I’ve been at Hampden was for the semi-final, which I missed through injury.
“I think we learned from the League Cup final after losing to Aberdeen on penalties and we now probably expect a little bit more from ourselves, in terms of attacking football and taking more chances.
“It was a big disappointment last year. It’s a horrible feeling coming second and we definitely want to put that right,” added Devine.
“It has gnawed away at us. The teams tried to cancel each other out, but, hopefully, this time there will be a lot more positivity and we’ll achieve the result we want.
“Finals are no places for losers and we just want to get there and play, having felt the pain previously.”
Devine is unsure whether Inverness have gained an edge from continuing to play competitive matches while Falkirk have had a full month off since the conclusion of their Championship campaign, but he suspects that is the case.
He added: “We could be a bit sharper than Falkirk. The downside is players picking up knocks or becoming fatigued after a long hard season.
“But we’ve done well in the league and we don’t know how they will be on the day after all that time off.
“They could be fresh or rusty, but we will just concentrating on our game.”