Caley cup triumph 'as good as it gets'
Inverness CT 2-1 Falkirk
Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30
It is one of the peculiarities of Scottish football that the manager of Inverness Caledonian Thistle knows that home crowds will never amount to more than a fraction of the multitudes who flock to see a mythical monster in Loch Ness, just along the road.
And unless Nessie purchases a season ticket for the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, it will be a push to get attendances above 4,000.
For the season just ended - during which Inverness won their first national trophy by beating Falkirk in the Scottish Cup final, finished third in the Scottish Premiership and secured a place in the Europa League qualifiers - the average crowd was 3,733.
"Can we go any better than this?" manager John Hughes asked rhetorically, contemplating the statistics of unprecedented success in the Highland capital. "No, I don't think we can if we are being realists. But it does not stop you setting standards and driving the club forward.
"We are going to lose a few. Graeme Shinnie is away to Aberdeen, Marley Watkins might go, big Edward Ofere will probably go."
Those faithful fans - and those who turned out for the big day - were treated to a dramatic finale to a game which, as both managers admitted, featured long passages of play when neither performed to anything like their best.
The redeeming feature of the first half was a delightful strike by Watkins, the consequence of a swift linking move in which the ball was funnelled through Ofere and Aaron Doran to the striker, who displayed a dancer's touch to skip past Jamie MacDonald and place his shot into the empty net.
When Carlo Tremarco was sent off for a despairing foul on Blair Alston, the current of play, which had flowed serenely in favour of Inverness, now caught the Highlanders in a riptide and Peter Grant's headed equaliser had the scent of destiny about it.
However, Inverness were not to be denied.
When Falkirk captain David McCracken was caught off balance under a dropping ball in his own half, Watkins pounced, galloped away and saw MacDonald parry his shot straight to substitute James Vincent, who had tracked his team-mate's run all the way from his right-back beat to turn home the rebound.