No Europe but Ross County can still achieve highest finish

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre, below, has told his side they still have plenty to play for despite missing out on a European ticket.

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre is looking to secure the club's highest ever top-flight finish. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Rangers’ victory over Celtic in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final means Scotland’s third Europa League slot will go to the winner of their 21 May showdown with fellow finalists Hibernian.

That foiled County, St Johnstone and Motherwell, who were all hoping for a Celtic cup triumph that would have seen the team finishing fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership rewarded instead.

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But McIntyre’s men can better 2012’s fifth-place finish and clinch their highest ever top-flight placing if they can fight their way past their nearest rivals. And a win away to Celtic today would go a long way to achieving that feat.

The Dingwall club’s manager said: “It’s important we maintain focus, but I’m confident we have a group of players who will do that. Whether results go our way or not remains to be seen, but it certainly won’t be because we’ve slacked off.

“We will be determined to move up a couple of places. It is important financially for the club, while this group of players can also finish in the club’s highest ever position in the top flight, so there’s still a lot to play for.”

The Highlanders have already had a season to remember after landing their first ever major trophy with March’s League Cup win and clinching a top-six slot.

They beat Celtic in the semi-finals on the way to their Hampden victory against Hibernian and McIntyre is delighted to see that his team are hungry for a repeat against Ronny Deila’s team.

“The players are getting greedy now, but you want that,” he said. “The best players, the ones who are used to success, as soon as they have a taste of a big win they put it to one side and look for the next one. Hopefully we can do that.

“I think team spirit is everything. Your group has got to be tight and work for each other. If you get that, it can take you a long way.

“Could it take us to a win at Celtic Park? Of course. There’s no reason why we can’t got there and win. We’ve shown this season we’re capable of doing that, not only in the semi-final but also in the league games.”