Kwon Hyeok-kyu has already made a big impression at St Mirren following his loan move from Celtic while still to make his competitive Buddies debut.

The 22-year-old South Korean midfielder joined the Hoops from Busan IPark last summer on a five-year deal but had yet to play for the Scottish champions before he joined the Buddies last week until the end of the season.

During the club’s January training camp in Spain, Kwon wowed players and staff with his initiation song and also impressed manager Stephen Robinson in training.

Ahead of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Queen of the South in Paisley on Saturday, where Kwon could feature, the Buddies boss said: “Kwon has been excellent, he has fitted in really well.

“He’s a character as well so we have really enjoyed him and we found out he was a good singer as well. That was entertaining.

“I don’t know what he sang, it was in Korean but it was better than most of our lads.

“Football-wise he has been excellent on the pitch.

“He has taken to what we are trying to do and it is a compliment to the staff here that we have been trusted to try to develop him because he hasn’t had loads of game time.

“But Celtic signed him for big money and we can see why. He is a talented boy. He will be available to play.

“I’m looking to bring one if not two more in, another forward and potentially competition at left-wing back. Every new signing gives the club a lift.”

Kwon’s initiation song during the training camp clearly made a big impression on his new team-mates.

“The best initiation I have ever seen,” said defender James Bolton.

“The voice wasn’t great but for energy, the best I’ve ever seen.

“I don’t think anyone was expecting it either. I think everyone was just expecting him to sing a Korean song that nobody had heard of and it was a Korean song, but he got us going. He was class. He was crackers, but very good. He’s a really good lad and I think he will fit in.”

On the visit of League One side Queen of the South, Robinson said: “Everybody wants a home draw, but it will be a tough game. Queen of the South have picked up recently.

“Marvin (Bartley) is a very good young coach so we expect a tough game.

“There are no easy rides in this game and we have to be fully focused, fully prepared and start the game well.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers enjoyed seeing Buckie Thistle players celebrate getting paired with his side in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup draw – but he will otherwise treat them like any other opponent.

The Highland League side are set for the biggest game in their history when they travel to Glasgow for Sunday’s fourth-round tie.

Footage emerged of the players on a night out reacting to the draw 24 hours after they beat Broxburn Athletic on penalties in the third round despite getting two men sent off.

Rodgers told Celtic TV: “For me it’s never mattered who the opponent is, we always prepare exactly the same and go through it with great detail.

“But it’s a great story for them. A lot of their players are part-time and to be able to come to Celtic will be a great occasion.

“I saw some of the images of the celebration when the guys saw they had drawn Celtic, which is great, that’s what cup competitions are all about.

“But of course our professional head is to get the job done and get into the next round. We have to be super-focused and professional.”

Michael Beale called for a big European night at Ibrox on Tuesday after Rangers had to come from behind to beat Morton 2-1 in their Viaplay Cup last-16 tie at Ibrox.

Ahead of the first leg of their Champions League play-off game against PSV Eindhoven, the Light Blues boss made eight changes for the visit of the Championship side, with star players like skipper James Tavernier, John Souttar, Todd Cantwell, Nicolas Raskin, Ryan Jack and Borna Barisic missing altogether.

Rangers were shocked in the 52nd minute when Ton skipper Grant Gillespie scored with a penalty following a VAR check but Gers striker Cyriel Dessers levelled from the spot on the hour mark, also following VAR intervention.

Substitute Danilo drove in a second for the Light Blues in the 68th minute and although Morton goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald was called into action several times during the game, it took a late challenge by Gers debutant Johnly Yfeko on George Oakley in added time to prevent the Morton striker getting a shot away.

Turning his attention to the visit of PSV, Beale said: “It’s got to be a typical Rangers, Ibrox, European night where the fans have to be up and the players have to take the game to PSV.

“It’s a two-legged game. Regardless of the result, it will go to the second leg.

“Our aim is to win the game but we get nothing for the end result on Tuesday.

“It’s a huge game. It’s a game we’re looking forward to, one where the two teams will throw a lot of punches and we have to make sure ours stick.

“If we get chances like we have had in the last few weeks we have to take them and we’ll be in a good place but if we are as wasteful as we’ve been, we’ll be having the same conversation. It’s clear where we need to improve as a team.

“A bit’s on me (today) because I made eight changes and changed the shape. It won’t be a team that plays regularly for Rangers. It will settle and become stronger and there’s no better opportunity than to show what we want our team to be.”

On another patchy performance by his side, Beale said: “Firstly, well done to Johnly Yfeko on his first start.

“Rabbi (Matondo) was eye-catching but Jamie MacDonald was really on form. We started well with good energy, created big chances but didn’t take one.

“The VAR decision comes then you find yourself 1-0 down and you think it’s maybe one of those days.

“But after that we got back to being dominant and Jamie made a couple of saves but we are through.

“Now it gives us a chance to train with the majority of the group fresh for Monday and Tuesday so the plan to get the win and not play everyone has worked.”

Morton boss Dougie Imrie, who named only four substitutes, was proud of his side’s efforts.

He said: “I can take a lot of positives. My team were terrific from start to finish and I’m really proud of them.

“A VAR decision and mistake by ourselves cost us but better teams will come here and get battered. So for the 90 mins, we were brilliant.

“With George’s chance at the end, we could have got 2-2 and took it extra-time and I am proud of the team, especially with the bench having four subs there.

“I’m not saying the VAR penalties are or not but from my view, both were soft. I’d need to see them again though.

“If I can get that every week from my players I’d like to think we’ll be OK.”

Rangers survived a potential Viaplay Cup embarrassment as they came from behind against Championship side Morton at Ibrox to win 2-1 and book their place in the quarter-finals.

Michael Beale’s side – missing half a dozen regulars – found themselves a goal behind and under pressure in the 53rd minute when Ton skipper Grant Gillespie scored with a penalty following a VAR check.

The Greenock side were looking for their first win at Ibrox since 1980 but Gers striker Cyriel Dessers levelled from the spot on the hour mark, also following VAR intervention.

Substitute Danilo fired the home side ahead in the 68th minute and the afternoon became more comfortable for the Light Blues.

While going into Sunday’s last-eight draw, Rangers have to get ready for Tuesday night’s Champions League play-off first leg tie against PSV Eindhoven at Ibrox where the standard of opposition will be tougher, albeit the Light Blues can take succour from the fact they beat the Dutch side at the same stage of the tournament last season and will have their star players back.

For the first Viaplay Cup tie of the season, and with Tuesday in mind, Beale rested skipper James Tavernier, John Souttar, Todd Cantwell, Nicolas Raskin, Ryan Jack and Borna Barisic, which allowed defender Dujon Sterling to make his first start while 20-year-old Johnly Yfeko made his competitive debut.

On the European theme, the visitors had veteran defender Kirk Broadfoot, who played in the 2008 UEFA Cup final for Rangers, in their rearguard  – he would have a mixed afternoon – as well as other experienced figures such as goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and midfielder Alan Power, although boss Dougie Imrie named only four substitutes.

Amid early pressure from the home side MacDonald made saves from Gers winger Rabbi Matondo and Dessers.

In the 18th minute at the other end, Morton’s Robbie Muirhead forced Ibrox keeper Jack Butland into a fine save down at his right-hand post from a 25-yard free-kick which sparked a surge of Morton enthusiasm.

Dessers then had the ball in the Morton net but referee David Dickinson had already blown for an infringement on defender Darragh O’Connor, who minutes later cleared a shot from Matondo off the line after the pacy attacker had rounded MacDonald, who finished off the first-half with another fine save, this time from Kieran Dowell’s curling free-kick from 25 yards.

The second-half brought early drama when Dessers clashed with Broadfoot inside the Gers box to bring penalty claims from the Morton players and fans.

Play waited for the VAR check then referee Dickinson checked his pitch-side monitor and pointed to the spot, with Gillespie sending Butland the wrong way.

The mood inside Ibrox changed and as Rangers responded Leon Balogun struck the post with a drive from close range.

There was a VAR check for a possible penalty for a Broadfoot tug on Balogun as Rangers waited to bring on Ianis Hagi, Danilo and Abdallah Sima and when Dickinson pointed to the spot, Dessers levelled with a well-taken penalty.

Danilo soon made his mark by slotting in from 14 yards after turning inside O’Connor and the pressure disappeared as the home side piled forward for more goals.

MacDonald tipped a Hagi drive over the bar before Sima headed a John Lundstram cross on to the bar with MacDonald making yet another fine save from Sima’s deflected shot as Rangers controlled the final stages which included eight minutes of added time, albeit a Yfeko challenge on George Oakley inside the Gers box was timely.

Aberdeen were made to battle for their place in the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup as they warmed up for their Europa League encounter against Hacken with a narrow 2-1 victory at Stirling.

Bojan Miovski fired the Dons into the lead after 29 minutes and a second from Leighton Clarkson just after the hour mark looked to have broken the resistance of their League One hosts.

The part-timers, who had hammered St Johnstone 4-0 in the group stage, set up a grandstand finish when Greig Spence pulled one back with 16 minutes left on the clock.

But the Premiership visitors withstood the late pressure to record a first competitive victory of the campaign ahead of their trip to Sweden to face Hacken on Thursday night for their play-off first-leg.

Aberdeen showed Stirling respect by selecting the same side that pushed Celtic hard in last Sunday’s 3-1 league defeat at Pittodrie.

And they opened in determined fashion as they sought an early breakthrough.

They almost had it after just five minutes but Stirling goalkeeper Blair Currie touched Duk’s header onto the crossbar and over from a Clarkson corner.

Only a minute later, Shayden Morris utilised his blistering pace to work a give-and-go on the right side of the box but his low centre just evaded the outstretched leg of Duk.

Stirling were resolute in defence and briefly flickered into life in attack but Currie had to look smart again in the 19th minute to clutch a Miovski header.

But there was nothing the home stopper could do just short of the half-hour mark as Aberdeen took the lead.

Nicky Devlin, who began on the right of a three-man defence, looked more comfortable when asked the fill the right-back slot and he was the creator.

The summer signing from Livingston took a pass in his stride and burst forward in determined fashion before reaching the by-line.

His cutback was tamed by Miovski, who took his time before drilling the ball into the net from 10 yards out.

Currie was called into action again in the 36th minute as Dante Polvara darted forward beyond the Stirling midfield and played in Morris.

But the winger’s shot was repelled by the Albion number one.

After a half of trying to keep the Aberdeen attacks at bay, Stirling suddenly threatened at the other end.

Kieran Moore helped a counter-attack on to the lurking Dale Carrick but the experienced striker’s shot was blocked by Kelle Roos in the Dons goal.

The home side were buoyed by the way they finished the first half and were re-energised after the break.

A Jack Leitch in-swinging corner caused havoc before being scrambled clear by the Aberdeen defence and then Carrick almost burst clear but could not get a shot away.

However, the away side settled and doubled their lead after 62 minutes with a stunner from Clarkson.

Currie did brilliantly to beat away a fierce shot from Graeme Shinnie but Clarkson thundered the rebound into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Only the woodwork denied Duk a third for Aberdeen from Clarkson’s corner before Stirling pulled one back in the 74th minute.

Ross Davidson’s deep free-kick was nodded back into the danger area by skipper Paul McLean and substitute Spence glanced his header into the net from close range.

Stirling hurled balls forward at every opportunity and screamed for a penalty at the death when Davidson was wiped out after shooting over.

But referee David Munro was not impressed and time eventually ran out on the stubborn hosts.

Scottish Gas has filled the void for Scottish Cup sponsorship in a deal understood to be worth about £5million a year.

A five-year contract has been agreed with the Scottish Football Association which will see the energy firm become the title sponsor of both the men’s and women’s competitions. The deal will also provide a major boost to grassroots football projects.

The deal was announced just before the SFA annual general meeting, which saw Alloa owner Mike Mulraney confirmed as president following the end of Rod Petrie’s four-year term. Hamilton’s Les Gray replaces Mulraney as vice-president.

Scottish Gas will become the first title sponsor of the Scottish Cup since William Hill’s nine-year partnership ended in 2020.

The men’s competition will be known as the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup from next season, its 150th anniversary, and the funding will also benefit the Scottish Gas Women’s Scottish Cup, the final of which was staged at Hampden this year for the first time.

The deal will help fund 120 new week-long holiday camps which will provide 6,000 opportunities for children to play football and receive free lunches.

The investment will also help Scottish Para-Football’s disability community initiatives by working with six clubs each year to set up the required infrastructure and playing conditions.

Scottish Gas will also work with the SFA to explore ways of making Hampden more sustainable and design a programme for clubs to help “reduce their carbon footprint and create more sustainable communities”.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Scottish Gas on board as a committed multi-level partner and supporter of the Power of Football.

“As part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, they will help us activate the oldest and youngest cup trophies in world football, bringing new and existing fans on that famous road to Hampden.

“Through this agreement, Scottish Gas will also help reinforce the impact our national game has at grassroots level, especially among those whose need is greatest. We look forward to bringing the partnership to life and highlighting the ways in which, together, we can inspire the nation and transform lives.”

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, the owner of Scottish Gas said: “We’re delighted to be investing in our customers’ communities and I’m particularly excited about the work we will be doing to support holiday camps, Para-Football and the women’s game across Scotland.”

Mulraney welcomed the deal and promised “100 per cent commitment and focus” on his new role.

“The Scottish FA is committed to inspiring the nation and transforming lives,” the Alloa chairman added.

“We made an impassioned plea at Holyrood only last week urging government and politicians to see us as allies in improving the health and wellbeing of the country and that is something I am determined to facilitate in a practical sense.

“The national association is primarily responsible for the development of the game, the grassroots and it is imperative we work with governments both national and local, philanthropists, commercial and charitable partners, to improve the fundamental infrastructure of our game – facilities.

“We have already agreed a £20m fund with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and need more investment.

“We need to retain and upgrade the pitches we currently have, attain new funding for new facilities, especially to meet the growth of girls’ and women’s football, and ensure we contribute to sustainable clubs and communities, both from a financial and an environmental perspective.

“This will be a key priority for me as president and I look forward to working with partners to improve our infrastructure.”

Scottish Gas has been announced as the title sponsor of both the men’s and women’s Scottish Cup.

A five-year contract has been agreed with the Scottish Football Association which will benefit grassroots football.

The men’s competition will be known as the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup from next season, its 150th anniversary, and the funding will also benefit the Scottish Gas Women’s Scottish Cup, the final of which was staged at Hampden this year for the first time.

The deal will help fund 120 new week-long holiday camps which will provide  6,000 opportunities for children to play football and receive free lunches.

The investment will also help Scottish Para-Football’s disability community initiatives by working with six clubs each year to set up the required infrastructure and playing conditions.

Scottish Gas will also work with the SFA to explore ways of making Hampden more sustainable and design a programme for clubs to help “reduce their carbon footprint and create more sustainable communities”.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Scottish Gas on board as a committed multi-level partner and supporter of the Power of Football.

“As part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, they will help us activate the oldest and youngest cup trophies in world football, bringing new and existing fans on that famous road to Hampden.

“Through this agreement, Scottish Gas will also help reinforce the impact our national game has at grassroots level, especially among those whose need is greatest. We look forward to bringing the partnership to life and highlighting the ways in which, together, we can inspire the nation and transform lives.”

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, the owner of Scottish Gas said: “Our partnership with the Scottish FA is the perfect match of energy and passion for Scottish Gas as we team up to support the nation.

“We’re delighted to be investing in our customers’ communities, and I’m particularly excited about the work we will be doing to support holiday camps, Para-Football and the women’s game across Scotland.”

Roddy MacGregor believes Inverness’ performance in the 3-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic can boost their promotion confidence for next season.

The Championship side had beaten cinch Premiership outfits Livingston and Kilmarnock on their way to Saturday’s Hampden Park showpiece but had finished sixth in the league.

Celtic proved too tough an opponent as goals from attackers Kyogo Furuhashi, substitute Liel Abada and Jota completed the domestic treble with Caley Thistle replacement Dan MacKay’s header a consolation.

However, MacGregor – a late second-half substitute for Scott Allardice – insists positives can be taken from the performance going into next season.

The 21-year-old midfielder said: “We went toe-to-toe with the best team in the country at the moment and in previous rounds we had beaten Premiership teams.

“It just shows that when we are on our game we can give any team a game and that definitely gives us confidence going into next season.

“We were disappointed obviously, it is never nice to lose in such a big game. It is not a nice feeling.

“Up against a team like Celtic it is always going to be tricky but I think we did reasonably well and limited their chances.

“We genuinely thought we could win the game and that’s the sign of a good dressing room and we are looking to go again next season and hopefully we have a fully-fit squad.”

MacKay, on loan from Hibernian, was pleased that Inverness proved the doom-mongers wrong with their spirited performance.

The 22-year-old winger said: “The boys can be proud of themselves. We put up a really good battle.

“Everyone doubted us and said it would be six or seven nil but we proved them wrong and showed that a Championship team that was midtable was more than a match at times for Celtic but they were clinical at the end of the day.

“If you get a goal you never know what can happen in these games. Pressure happens and chances come and go in games.

“We took our chance but unfortunately we never got another chance and Celtic were clinical.

“But we need to be proud, it was an achievement getting there.”

Asked about his future with Hibs, he said: “I don’t know yet. I wait to see what happens.”

Carl Starfelt believes he has taken “very big steps” under the tutelage of Ange Postecoglou as speculation about the Celtic boss’ future continues apace.

The backdrop to the Hoops’ 3-1 Scottish Cup final win over Championship side Inverness at Hampden Park on Saturday was the link between the former Australia manager and Tottenham.

Goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, Liel Abada and Jota rendered Dan MacKay’s header a consolation as the Parkhead club completed their eighth domestic treble – a world record.

Fans hero Postecoglou arrived at Parkhead in June 2021 and brought in the Sweden centre-back from Rubin Kazan the following month and Starfelt – who insisted that he had no knowledge of what his boss intended to do – has enjoyed his development as a player in that period.

He said: “Obviously, he brought me here. I was one of the first signings he made and he has given me a lot of trust.

“He has been really good for me and my development, also the way he wants centre-backs to play is really developing.

“I feel that I have been taking very big steps and also he demands the very best from every player which makes us better.

“So, obviously he has been really good for me and a lot of the players.”

Starfelt acknowledged the widespread influence of Postecoglou at Celtic, where he arrived after the league title had decanted to Rangers, wresting it back to the east end of Glasgow at the first attempt.

He said: “It is really important for the club – everyone can see that.

“He came in when it was a really tough period and has done this rebuild. He is just a really good manager and everyone knows he is really important for the club but we will have to wait and see what happens, I don’t know.

“After the game he said that he was really proud of everyone.

“He knows how hard we have been working all season, not only in the games, coming into training every day with 100 per cent focus, which is what is needed to achieve this kind of thing as it is not easy. It took a lot to get us to this place.

“We have been working really hard all season. I am really happy, delighted, happy and proud of the boys and the staff.

“We worked so hard and the treble is not an easy thing to achieve so I’m really happy.”

Inverness manager Billy Dodds was proud of his players after their Hampden efforts against treble-winning Celtic.

Caley Thistle restricted the champions to few chances before Kyogo Furuhashi swept home a 38th-minute winner in the Scottish Cup final.

Half-time sub Liel Abada doubled Celtic’s lead but Inverness fought back through Dan MacKay before Jota sealed a 3-1 win in stoppage-time.

“Everything a losing manager feels, you are disappointed, but proud at the same time.

“There’ s a massive gulf between the teams but I thought we asked them questions at certain times, I really did.

“We lost goals at bad times, because i was trying to get to half-time, had a plan in my head, then we lost a goal when I was going to make an attacking substitution.

“I love working with this group and after being idle for five weeks or so, I thought they put on a hell of a performance.

“I am absolutely thrilled by the way they dug in and what they gave me in terms of effort and determination.”

Dodds added: “Every manager talks about character and all that we have and we certainly did to come back into the game.

“Wallace Duffy whips in a great ball and it’s a brilliant finish from Dan MacKay.”

Skipper Callum McGregor believes Ange Postecoglou will leave Celtic on the highest of highs if Tottenham’s reported interest in the Hoops boss comes to fruition.

The Parkhead club clinched an eighth domestic treble – a world record – with a 3-1 Scottish Cup final win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at  Hampden Park.

Afterwards, Postecoglou refused to commit himself to Celtic for next season and McGregor was asked about the former Australia manager’s accomplishment of the clean sweep in Scotland which brings another entry into the Champions League next season, amid strong speculation about his future.

McGregor, who has now won the treble five times with the Parkhead club, said: “That’s what he always wants to speak about, how well he can build the group, how successful you can be, how together you can be.”

The Hoops captain, who said his personal haul of medals “is something I am proud of, you want to be a winner” added: “We hope he stays and we hope to see him in pre-season.

“In football you never know but if that is a parting gift then what a way to go.

“Of course (we hope he stays). You deliver that much success at the club in such a short space of time.

“You turn things around, you look at the togetherness of the group, it is fantastic and that starts from him.

“That is the message he sets every day so of course we understand he will be linked with big jobs which he has been but selfishly, as players and as a club, we want to keep him as long as we can.”

Asked if he was braced for Postecoglou’s departure, McGregor said: “We don’t know.

“In football there is always speculation, there is always people being linked and that is a good thing.

“It shows you are doing a good job, it shows the players have done a good job for him and he has done a great job for the club so it is always nice to have that compliment and in football you just never know.

“We celebrate tonight, we have had a brilliant season and we will see what happens.

“In football you deal with whatever comes your way, you have to be flexible, you have to work around these things and as I said selfishly we want to keep him. Hopefully we have him for pre-season.”

Ange Postecoglou vowed to enjoy Celtic’s record-breaking treble for as long as he could before someone “drags” him away to focus on other issues as he continued to dodge questions over his future.

Postecoglou is odds-on favourite to take over at Tottenham and refused to give any indication on whether he would be departing Celtic Park after making it five trophies in two seasons with a 3-1 Scottish Cup win over Inverness.

Many Celtic fans fear their manager is London-bound and he would not give any assurances to the contrary.

“I will say to them what I said to the players, let’s enjoy this,” he said. “I deserve to enjoy this, the people around me deserve to enjoy this.

“Whatever other people want to focus on and talk about, I am not going to miss enjoying this moment with this group of people but also I owe it to my family, my friends, all of those closest to me.

“Everyone works hard and makes sacrifices to enjoy these moments. I understand that other people who aren’t invested in it want to ask these questions but for me, right now, the most important thing is that we reflect and just be in the moment of creating something special.”

When it was pointed out that fans who are heavily-invested in Celtic are among those asking the questions, the 57-year-old said: “Yeah, but they deserve to enjoy this moment because, irrespective of what happens in the future, why would you not want to enjoy this moment just for what it is? It’s something historic.”

When asked if he anticipated being in Glasgow next season, the former Australia head coach said: “I anticipate enjoying this moment for the next 24-48 hours, as long as I can, before someone drags me away and takes my attention away from enjoying something that’s been hard-earned.

“The reality is, there’s probably players in that dressing room who won’t be here next year. That’s the nature of football.

“But I want them to enjoy it, I am going to enjoy it, and that’s all I am going to focus on until someone grabs me by the collar and tells me that I have to answer certain questions.”

Celtic clinched the domestic treble with a 3-1 Scottish Cup final win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden Park.

The showpiece occasion was played against the backdrop of mounting speculation around Tottenham’s interest in Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou, who again had Kyogo Furuhashi to thank for his contribution.

The Japan striker struck for the 34th times this season in the 38th minute of an otherwise nondescript first half to undo the good early work of Billy Dodds’ rank outsiders.

The Championship outfit, who had not played a competitive game for a month, fell further behind when Hoops’ half-time substitute Liel Abada slid in a second in the 65th minute.

Caley substitute Dan MacKay pulled a goal back with five minutes remaining, only for Portuguese winger Jota to restore Celtic’s two-goal advantage as the game slipped into six minutes of added time.

It is the eighth time Celtic had completed the clean sweep of League, League Cup and Scottish Cup – a world record – and now eyes turn to see what the future holds for Postecoglou, who is the fifth Parkhead manager to win the treble.

James Vincent admits he has only recently started to grasp the full magnitude of his Scottish Cup-winning strike for Inverness eight years ago.

The 33-year-old midfielder scored the biggest goal in Caley Thistle’s history when he burst forward from his auxiliary role at right-back to tap home in the 86th minute as his 10-man team overcame a late flurry from Falkirk to claim the old trophy in 2015.

But Vincent, who returned for a second spell with Inverness between 2019 and 2021, admits it took him some time to fully appreciate the importance of what he had accomplished.

“It really is the sort of thing you grow up dreaming of, scoring a late winner in a cup final,” Vincent told the PA news agency on the eve of his old side’s Scottish Cup final showdown with Celtic.

“It’s probably something that has become heightened over the years, partly by doing interviews like this. At the time I thought it was just another game to be brutally honest.

“I didn’t quite understand how it affected the lives of fans and staff. It’s only when you’re still getting messages from fans about the cup final all these years later that you understand how it impacted other people and that it was the biggest moment for the club they support.

“It’s probably something that I’ve come to realise over the years was such a big occasion and I’m so happy that I was part of it.”

Vincent was sent on by manager John Hughes as a 72nd-minute substitute to try and help Inverness – who were in the Premiership at the time – maintain control at a time when they led their second-tier opponents 1-0.

A red card for Caley Thistle defender Carl Tremarco just three minutes later, however, changed the whole dynamic of the match and Falkirk equalised with 10 minutes left.

Just as the Bairns looked set to turn the screw, the Highlanders broke away and won it when Vincent followed up to tap in the rebound after attacker Marley Watkins had surged from his own half and forced a save out of Jamie MacDonald.

“Circumstances on the day were crazy,” recalled Vincent. “We had ups and downs, a red card, people playing out of position, but I just took a bit of a risk towards the end and fortunately it paid off.

“When I came on, it was still 11 v 11 but Falkirk were getting a bit of a foothold. I went on for Ryan Christie to play in an advanced midfielder position but within three minutes we were down to 10 men and I got moved to right-back.

“John Hughes liked utilising us in different positions, which I felt was a strength of ours. The remit from there was to shut up shop, get to extra time and see if we could take it to penalties but I had the chance to break forward and I took it.

“A lot of the boys had played the majority of the game and were tired, especially when we were down to 10 men, but I had a bit of freshness about me and I was on the pitch so I just thought ‘I’ll have a go’. You don’t get to play in many occasions like that and I just took a gamble and kept going.

“I got myself ahead of the midfield line and it was only Marley up top and he managed to brush off a defender and get a shot away. I still think he should have passed to me but he had a shot and I was in the right place at the right time.

“Even though Falkirk were in the Championship, they had a really good squad and had been on the cusp of promotion for a couple of years. We were the favourites going into it but the tide turned when we had Carl sent off and we probably became the underdogs.

“It was tough, it was backs-against-the-wall at times, but we had a great attitude about us. I don’t think anybody expected us to finish the game the way we did.”

Vincent will be watching his former colleagues from his Glossop home on Saturday, hoping he will be joined in Inverness folklore by a new cup final-winning hero.

“It’s really nice to see Aaron Doran and Danny Devine trying to do it again,” he said of the two remaining members of the 2015 squad. “They’re the two boys, along with Billy McKay who I’m still really close to and still talk to quite regularly.

“Those lads will be really valuable to Inverness because they’ve got the experience. I think they’ve got a nice blend of younger and more experienced player.

“I’ll be watching on television as a fan and I’d love to see them have a go at Celtic and see where it takes them. If they do that and give it their all, nobody will moan regardless of the score.”

Danny Devine admits he has allowed himself to dream about the prospect of becoming a two-time Scottish Cup winner with Inverness.

The 30-year-old defender is one of only two members of the current squad who played a part when Caley Thistle enjoyed the greatest day in their history by defeating Falkirk in the 2015 final.

Aaron Doran was the other player who featured in John Hughes’ triumphant team eight years ago, and now the pair are desperate to experience similar glory this weekend by helping the cinch Championship side stun treble-chasing Celtic in Saturday’s showdown at Hampden.

“What we did in 2015 was massive, especially for the city of Inverness, being up in the Highlands and everything else that brings with it,” Devine told the PA news agency.

“I look back on that day with fond memories. It was historic for the club and there’s no reason why this club can’t push on forward and have more days like that, like we’re going to have tomorrow.

“There’s only two of us left from that cup-winning side. We have the experience of doing it before, which will hopefully help us individually and help the team.

“It was obviously the best point of my career and to go and do it again would be absolutely huge, especially with the opponent we face. It’s going to be extremely tough but with a little bit of luck, you never know.”

Asked if he had allowed himself to ponder life as a two-time Scottish Cup winner, Northern Irishman Devine said: “Of course, yes. You always try and visualise what it would be like if we could go there and pull off a huge upset, then you quickly bring yourself back down to earth by recognising the actual size of the task at hand.

“But of course I’ve thought about it. When the game time comes that will be completely out of my head and I’ll just be focused on the game itself and doing my job.”

Devine hopes the cup-winning experience he and Doran possess can help Billy Dodds’ young squad handle the occasion this time round.

“There’s nothing like experience,” he said. “I think having played in these big games in the past definitely helps, in the lead-up to it and managing the nerves and stuff like that.

“We’ve got quite a young squad here with a few local boys and it’s good for them to pick our brains and find out little bits and bobs of what it’s like on the day. It’s good for us to be there if we can help them in any way.”

Inverness, who were in the top flight at the time, had to conquer Ronny Deila’s Celtic side in the semi-final on their run to glory in 2015.

Devine was sidelined by injury that day and watched from the stand as his colleagues took advantage of a red card for Hoops goalkeeper Craig Gordon to win 3-2 after extra-time. He believes memories of that occasion can give the current side hope as they bid to stop Ange Postecoglou’s formidable side.
“I know this Celtic team is firing on all cylinders but they had some pretty good players back then as well,” said Devine. “Virgil Van Dijk scored a free-kick that day and they were an extremely good side.

“They were no mugs back then so that definitely gives us confidence. I know it’s a bit different this time because we’re in the division below but the belief is there within this squad, we’re a tight-knit group and we’ll be giving it our best shot.

“We’ve played about eight semi-finals and finals in our short history and this is our second Scottish Cup final in eight years, which is absolutely huge for a club of this size, and I think that comes from that underdog spirit and everybody being together up here in the Highlands.”

Page 5 of 7
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.