Caley Thistle defender Shaun Rooney has learned to take the rough with the smooth from his experience of the Highland derby so far.
Rooney has played in both derby encounters against Ross County so far this season, and netted in Inverness’ 2-2 draw against the Staggies at Caledonian Stadium in November.
Although Rooney took pleasure in celebrating his first half goal in front of the County supporters, the 22-year-old’s afternoon took a turn for the worse after the break when he was taken off with an ankle injury, prompting a less than sympathetic reaction from the Staggies fans.
Rooney has learned to take the taunts in his stride and is relishing another meeting with the Dingwall side at Victoria Park today.
He said: “I scored in the last game, but I also got injured as well. You have to take the bad with the good.
“But it was good watching it after I came off. It was pretty high-paced and both teams were attacking each other like a game of basketball.
“I came off early in the second half. Both teams were trying to win it, but neither could.
“The Ross County fans weren’t exactly sympathetic when I got injured, but I wasn’t sympathetic with my goal celebration.
“It is what it is. I broke my tally for goals. I had only ever scored two in a season before and that was my third.
“I thought I’d give them a good celebration. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them again – hopefully they’re all in good spirits.
“The atmosphere in the derbies has been good. Both sets of fans make a lot of noise.
“My past derby experience only covers Clyde against Queen’s Park in front of 1,000 fans at Hampden Park – that’s rivalry for you.”
Former Queen of the South and Dunfermline defender Rooney feels his side have given a good account of themselves in both derby fixtures this term, which have ended in draws.
He added: “We definitely felt we could have won both games, especially in the first one at Victoria Park where we had chances. If we’d taken them, we felt we would have gone on to win.
“Towards the end of the last meeting here we looked the better team as well.
“We don’t feel like underdogs in these games. We feel we have enough quality in the team to win them – it is all about work-rate.”
Rooney is eager to keep his side’s momentum going after John Robertson’s men returned to fourth place with a 2-1 win away to Morton last weekend, and he added: “Obviously, we’ve only been beaten once this season so the confidence is never going to be low.
“After our first defeat, there was a determination to bounce back – and we did that.
“We’re still trying to pull away in fourth spot and secure ourselves in the play-offs. That’s the main focus, but we still have to look at the league table.
“It is no different just because it is a derby. It is still three points.”