Hearts boss Ian Cathro has explained that he did not shake hands with Jim McInally after his team lost to Peterhead midweek because he did not want to interrupt the partying that was well under way in the home technical area.
The Gorgie manager insists he never intended to disrespect his League Two counterpart, who claimed he had been blanked and moaned that his side had not been given the credit they deserved.
Cathro refuted that but said he would not be phoning his League Cup group rival to apologise. Instead he seemed to suggest that if McInally valued respect he would have called him and raised the issue with him directly rather than mouthing off to the media.
A last-minute penalty gave the underdogs victory in the Group B match, leaving one dug-out gutted and the other euphoric. Despite that, Cathro said he still made a move to congratulate the Peterhead gaffer but said circumstances rather than bitterness or malice prevented him.
“At that point, they were still in the middle of their party and celebrations. I lingered for a split-second but I was naturally disappointed at that point so rather than wait any longer, I went inside because I was dealing with my own team and my own priorities.
“I didn’t wait around for five minutes. But it was by no means an intentional act [of disrespect]. I have no problem with them celebrating the fact they won the game. I’m not saying that. But I didn’t intend walking up to disrupt the party.
“I missed Jim but, when I went to do the media, I know the staff went to see Jim specifically, congratulated Peterhead and wished them well this weekend. They are also at a point where they can qualify so well done to them.”
Today’s opponents Dunfermline are also in the running to top the group and guarantee progress to the next round of a competition Cathro has described as a ‘massive’ priority for his club and he won’t let the fallout from Balmoor distract him.
“I don’t know Jim personally, but I remember him at Dundee United when I was a young boy watching them. He played with Dave Bowman, who I know very well. He talks very well of him. Jim was a top player and I have no desire to be anything other than positive about him and his team.”