Ross County’s Paul Quinn eyes unique double

29/01/16 ' GLOBAL ENERGY STADIUM - DINGWALL ' Ross County's new signing Paul Quinn
29/01/16 ' GLOBAL ENERGY STADIUM - DINGWALL ' Ross County's new signing Paul Quinn
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While his Ross County team-mates have an opportunity to become local legends by winning the League Cup at Hampden Park today, central defender Paul Quinn is eyeing a league and cup double.

Quinn, 30, may become the subject of an intriguing pub quiz question if Aberdeen are crowned Premier League champions for the first time for 31 years and County collect their first piece of national silverware in only their second major final.

It has emerged that he is entitled to a Premiership medal under SPFL rules that stipulate that to qualify a player must feature in 25 per cent of games, in which case Quinn does so comfortably, having made 13 appearances for the Dons.

Having originally signed a two-year deal as a free agent last July, Quinn’s stay at Pittodrie lasted just six months before he was given the opportunity to return to Ross County during the transfer window.

And should he achieve the unusual distinction of sharing in a possible title triumph while playing for another club, Quinn would be justified in feeling he had played his part, for it was his 86th minute goal that earned Aberdeen a 2-1 home victory over Celtic in September.

While Quinn believes the Dons are capable of beating Celtic at Celtic Park, he wonders if they will be able to claw back the other two points they will need to squeeze across the line, Provided, of course, they win their other matches.

But regardless of the outcome of the title race, he thinks his former club deserves credit for managing to stay in the hunt.

If Quinn has cause to celebrate this afternoon, he will be the first to recognise that fate has been kind to him. He could so easily have been cup-tied by the time he returned to Dingwall, had Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes not decided against risking him coming off the bench in the third round defeat by Hibs at Easter Road.

Quinn revealed: “I spoke with Derek on the phone the night before the match and I told him I was struggling a wee bit with a sore knee. He said OK, but when we lost a defender in the opening period it looked as if I might be going on, but, fortunately, I didn’t.

“If I had been a wee bit younger I maybe would have tried to limp through it, but I’m glad I used my head instead. Looking back it could be the most important phone call of my career and the best little niggle I have ever had.”

Quinn has a League Cup runner-up medal from the 2005 final, when he came on as a substitute for Motherwell in their 5-1 defeat by Rangers, and a League One championship medal earned with Doncaster three seasons ago.

But he added: “This is the smallest town to have a club in the Premiership so to go and give them a trophy would be something special; as high an achievement as any of us have attained in our careers.”

Meanwhile, County’s Dutch forward Alex Schalk, who sealed Celtic’s League Cup semi-final fate with a spectacular drive as the Staggies claimed a 3-1 victory, is tempted to believe in coincidences, given that the under-21 international also scored against the odds in a League Cup tie when unfancied NAC Breda defeated mighty Ajax at the same stage.

Schalk, who was playing for his hometown club in the national under-19s competition, recalled: “We won 2-1 against all the odds and it was a fantastic feeling. Then we beat Utrecht in the final.”

But no matter that he already has a cup winners’ medal, the 23-year-old says today’s final is the biggest game he has ever been involved in.

“I am expecting a tight game, but after beating Celtic we had the feeling we were invincible and having already played at Hampden that will be important psychologically as the other semi-final was at Tynecastle.”