Monday 18 December 2017

Mc Govern backs County to stun Celtic

Ross County goalkeeper Michael McGovern has issued a rallying call to his team-mates ahead of Saturday's Active Nation Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, insisting: "Shocks happen".

County have already toppled Clydesdale Bank Premier League opponents in both cups this term, having knocked Hamilton out of the Co-operative Insurance Cup and shocked Hibernian in their Scottish Cup quarter-final last month.

Now McGovern will get the chance to test himself against his former side at Hampden and he is relishing the opportunity.

He said: "We're going into the game as massive underdogs (but) on the day it's 11 versus 11 - shocks happen.

"We'll be hoping Celtic don't play to their full potential on the day and we play to ours."

Celtic have been disappointing by their own standards this season but McGovern thinks they have found another level since Neil Lennon replaced Tony Mowbray as manager.

"I think they've definitely got a lift since Neil Lennon's taken over," said McGovern.

"You can see in their last couple of victories they have been harder to beat.

"There is always a positive reaction when a new manager comes in.

"From our point of view, it makes it more difficult for us but, even if there hadn't been a change, it would be a tough game anyway."

McGovern knows all about Lennon's leadership qualities as the former Northern Ireland midfielder was captain for part of his time at Parkhead.

"If you did something wrong in training when I was there, he would be down on you like a ton of bricks," said McGovern.

"On the other side of the coin, if you did something well, he would be quick to praise you.

"Everybody talks about winners, and Lenny is one of them. He always strives for perfection.

"If you were in his team in training, you always had to be on your game.

"Celtic are a great team and Lenny has got them organised, so it's going to be a really hard game for us, nobody is giving us a chance.

"But we'll go out and give it our best shot."

McGovern has already picked up a couple of Scottish Cup winners' medals in 2004 and 2007, although he never made it onto the pitch for Celtic.

He said: "Obviously, it was nice getting the winners' medals because not a lot of people get them.

"I was proud to an extent, because I rose through the ranks and worked hard to get to the fringes of the first team.

"On the other side, I wasn't that proud because I never took part in the games and never contributed.

"From my point of view, the match on Saturday will be much bigger than the two cup finals I was involved in."

McGovern joined County last summer and has since been a regular member of a team which now sits fourth in the Irn-Bru First Division.

He said: "I've been delighted how it's gone here.

"I wanted to come here in the summer to get games and experience, and from that point of view it's worked.

"The team has also done very well and to get to the semi-final of the cup has exceeded expectations for me personally. I've really enjoyed my time here.

"It's obviously nice being at a big club but there is a stage when you need to play football.

"I could have stayed at Celtic. I was offered a new contract, but I thought it was best to move on.

"If I had stayed, I would still have been third choice. I needed to play games to progress.

"I'd rather play in the First Division than sit on the bench in the SPL.

"The only way you can go forward is to play games.

"I've played every week this season so I hope I can continue that until the end of the season."

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