McIntyre turns attention to securing highest-ever league finish

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre ordered the celebrations to be put on hold for his players after they claimed the club's first major trophy with a dramatic League Cup final win against Hibs.

Jim McIntyre lifts the League Cup Trophy. Picture: Getty

Despite overseeing the greatest day in County’s 87-year history, McIntyre’s determination to also pursue their highest-ever league placing this season saw him place the party and trophy parade in Dingwall on hold for a week. Currently fourth in the Premiership, County face St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday before welcoming Highland rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle to the Global Energy Stadium on Saturday.

“We had a meeting about it and the players will be in at lunchtime tomorrow to prepare properly for Wednesday,” said McIntyre. “It’s too important. Teams are biting and scratching for that top six and we are one of them.

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“If we go out and party, then I know some players will not be ready or in the right frame of mind for Wednesday. We might still lose on Wednesday, but at least I’ll be able to look in the mirror and say I’ve done things professionally.

“A few boys will stay down here tonight and see family from the central belt, then drive up to Dingwall in the morning. Of course I trust them – but there might be one or two who end up at the dancing! No, that’s a joke – but put it this way, if it was me, I’d be at the dancing. They are far more professional than I was.

“Our plan is to do something after the game on Saturday. You don’t pre-book these things, you don’t want to tempt fate. But we will have a party on Saturday night after the Caley game. Regardless of what our results are on Wednesday and Saturday, we will definitely celebrate winning this cup.”

McIntyre believes no-one deserves to enjoy those celebrations more than chairman Roy MacGregor, who has funded County’s rise from the Highland League to the Scottish top flight. He also showed faith in McIntyre when his appointment as Derek Adams’ successor last season failed to deliver instant results.

“He wanted to make sure that people from the Highlands had an opportunity to play professional football up there without having to leave,” said McIntyre. “After what he’s done for the club I’m absolutely delighted he’s won a major trophy because he deserves everything he gets.

“A lot of clubs could have panicked because we only won three out of our first 19 games. The chairman could have thought he’d made the wrong decision but he stood firm because he knew exactly what I wanted to do. Thankfully enough we stayed up and we’ve built from there.”

Hibs boss Alan Stubbs felt his players only had themselves to blame for failing to maximise lengthy spells of dominance in the final. But he is determined their season, which now moves on to Wednesday night’s Scottish Cup quarter-final replay in Inverness, will not fall flat.

“Our contribution within the game tells you we could have won it easily,” said Stubbs. “We just didn’t really create enough clear-cut opportunities. Today is a big disappointment but the players have still got so much more to play for this season.”