Josh Meekings hopes Scottish Cup success will make Inverness more attractive prospect

Inverness goalscorers James Vincent (left) and Marley Watkins
Inverness goalscorers James Vincent (left) and Marley Watkins
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Josh Meekings hopes Inverness’ William Hill Scottish Cup triumph will persuade more players to take the long road to the Highlands.

The Caley Thistle defender was overjoyed after Saturday’s 2-1 Hampden win over Falkirk handed the club their first major honour.

Boss John Hughes masterminded the success but much of the credit should also go to former manager Terry Butcher after he put the building blocks for victory in place before making his ill-fated switch to Hibernian in November 2013.

It was the former England captain’s scouting set-up which unearthed the likes of match-winner James Vincent and opening scorer Marley Watkins playing in England’s lower leagues.

In fact, the Inverness squad boasts just five Scottish regulars and only three – Ryan Christie, Nick Ross and Liam Polworth – play for their home-town team.

But Hughes admits the biggest test of his recruitment efforts is trying to tempt transfer targets to pack up and move north to Scotland’s remote northern city.

However, after adding Scottish Cup joy to the club’s third-place Scottish Premiership finish, English defender Meekings believes that persuasion game may now become an easier task.

He said: “I hope this is the kind of thing that will persuade more players to give Inverness a try.

“Obviously we are out the way a bit and up the road. No-one really likes making that journey up the A9.

“But when you are up there it’s fine. In fact it’s absolutely fantastic. I always say it makes the dressing room even better and you go into training enjoying it all.

“It’s a brilliant place to be around because you spend a lot more time with the lads as there is not much stuff to do. So it makes for a really tight bunch.

“This season has just been absolutely fantastic.”

Just 21 years after the club were formed by the merger of the old Highland league rivals Caledonian and Inverness Thistle, supporters are now looking forward to their first foray into Europe.

But Meekings admits they came close to throwing their first cup triumph away when Carl Tremarco’s red card 15 minutes from time prompted a Bairns fightback.

“I think it could take a few weeks for it to sink in what we have achieved,” he said. “It’s incredible.

“The boys had to dig deep to get us through. We never seem to do it easily when we are in these situations but we got it done and won.”

Vincent struck just three minutes from time to kill off Falkirk hopes after Peter Grant had drawn them level.

“I’m just delighted,” Meekings added.

“What we have done this season has been huge. If you had told me at the beginning of the season that we would end in Europe and win a cup, I’d have bitten your arm off.”