St Mirren 'should aspire to following St Johnstone's lead'

St Mirren captain Joe Shaughnessy doesn’t have a winners’ medal yet but he is already in no doubt just how much winning the Scottish Cup would mean.

St Mirren captain Joe Shaughnessy in buoyant mood during a training session ahead of Sunday's Scottish Cup semi-final against St Johnstone. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The big defender’s four-year spell at St Johnstone started a year after the Perth club lifted the trophy for the first and, so far, only time in their history.

“From the moment I joined St Johnstone, it was always talked about,” says Shaughnessy whose St Mirren side face his old club in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

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“Every year they had their May 17 anniversary of the 2014 final and all the fans, that was all they wanted to talk about. They always wanted to talk to the players who had won it if they could.

Joe Shaughnessy (right) celebrates his late equaliser in normal time of St Mirren's dramatic Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“So I know what it means to fans of clubs, to all clubs I guess, but especially the ones who rarely get the chance to win these competitions. I know what it means and the status it can give to players.”

Shaughnessy was part of a St Johnstone squad who were consistent top-six finishers in the Premiership, something which narrowly eluded St Mirren this season, and regular qualifiers for European competition.

As he approaches the end of his first season with St Mirren, the Irishman feels the Paisley club should have aspirations of similar levels of consistency.

“All the clubs of our size would probably look at St Johnstone and say that is something to aim for,” added Shaughnessy,

“There is a lot of stability there, they have had a couple of fourth place finishes, European football and now two cup wins in the last seven years. So I think all the clubs would look at them and think if you can get that sort of consistency, then that can be achieved.

“I feel this season, ourselves and St Johnstone are actually very closely matched. You see in the 33 games before the split that we were only separated by two goals.

“But especially since Christmas, they have been brilliant. They have had very consistent performances and results. They have hit a really good bit of form, that is probably the difference – they have had a bit more consistency than we have.”

Shaughnessy remains in close contact with several of the St Johnstone players and was enthralled by their quarter-final win over Rangers at Ibrox when goalkeeper Zander Clark’s header from Liam Craig’s 122th-minute corner led to the goal which forced a penalty shoot-out.

“I’ve stayed good friends with Zander and Liam and we stay in touch throughout the season,” said Shaughnessy. “I haven’t spoken to them this week but after the game we’ll have a chat.

“I think Zander should actually have scored in the semi! But he was really good. In the game he made some big saves and you felt when he did that, it might be their day.

“He wandered up into the middle of the box and somehow everyone missed him. He stands out like a sore thumb as well. Liam has put the corner on his head and I was very happy for them. But I’ll be right on his back if he comes forward into the box against us.”

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