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History proves Caley Thistle can stun Celtic, says Stuart Golabek

Inverness seek to stop Celtic from securing the treble - and qualify for European football next season.

Former Caley Thistle captain Stuart Golabek.
Former Caley Thistle captain Stuart Golabek. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Caley Thistle legend Stuart Golabek believes the Highlanders need only reflect on past successes against Celtic to remind themselves anything is possible in the Scottish Cup final.

Inverness are aiming for a fourth Scottish Cup win against the Hoops on Saturday.

Golabek’s successes over the Glasgow giants in 2000 and 2003 were added to eight years ago when John Hughes’ team were 3-2 extra-time semi-final victors before they won the trophy against Falkirk in a 2-1 final outcome.

Inverness have to take their chances

Billy Dodds’ men finished sixth in the Championship, missing out on the promotion play-offs on the final night of the regular season, while Ange Postecoglou’s aces have already won the Premiership and the League Cup as they eye a treble by beating ICT.

Golabek insists Inverness must be deadly when the chances come along to give themselves a chance of causing a massive upset.

He said: “Looking honestly, 99% of people would put their mortgages on Celtic winning, but Celtic could just have a rare off-day and we saw it in the 2015 semi-final, Celtic went down to 10 men (when Craig Gordon was sent off) and Inverness won 3-2 after extra-time.

“History shows it can happen when little things combine to work for you. You need everything going for you, because if it’s all going against you, then you’re defending for 90 minutes.

“It is then backs-to-the-wall and you’re simply trying to stay in the game.

“Inverness will get chances too. It’s a matter of taking them.

“Can they get their noses in front and do what they did in the previous cup wins against Celtic? Hopefully it goes their way.”

Former Inverness Caley Thistle manager Steve Paterson, who led ICT to their stunning 3-1 win at Parkhead in 2000. Image: SNS

Luck and strong defending sunk Celts

The former Brora Rangers boss and assistant manager is one of the few Inverness players who knows what it’s like to beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup twice.

He played in the original famous 3-1 win at Celtic Park in 2000 under Steve Paterson and starred again three years later as Dennis Wyness struck the only goal for John Robertson’s side against Martin O’Neill’s Seville-bound side.

Golabek stresses strong defending allied with good fortune combined to help secure that home quarter-final triumph for ICT.

He said: “The second win over Celtic was even better, just in terms of where Celtic were at that time, reaching the UEFA Cup final that season

“We scored the goal and we were all fit and trusted one another. We were lucky, they hit woodwork and we had bodies on the line and defended well. (Goalkeeper) Mark Brown was brilliant that night.

“At any level of football, you need luck against the top teams.

“But you also need all your players to be hitting 10 out of 10 and your goalkeeper and everyone in the side to do things they wouldn’t normally do.”

Stuart Golabek in action for Inverness CT in 2010. Image: SNS

Semi loss to Pars ‘one that got away’

Golabek played in two Scottish Cup semi-finals, but the team fell short on both occasions under John Robertson.

Twenty years ago, they were edged out 1-0 by Dundee at Hampden in punishingly hot conditions, with ICT a then First Division team and the Taysiders a talented top-table team, who lost 1-0 to Rangers in the final.

The following season, the Caley Jags and Dunfermline Athletic, also one league apart in favour of the Fifers, drew 1-1 in the Hampden semi-final.

Then, in a Pittodrie replay, Inverness lost 3-2. Dunfermline, bossed by Jimmy Calderwood, finished the competition as runners-up after losing 3-1 to Celtic in the final.

Former full-back Golabek felt the close call against the Pars was especially sore for ICT, having had the lead thanks to Paul Ritchie’s opener.

He added: “When we played Dundee in the 2003 semi-final, it was a really hot day and it was really tiring to play on that pitch.

“Dundee were a really decent side and they were splashing about a fair bit of money.

“They had Fabian Caballero, Zurab Khizanishvili, Barry Smith, Gavin Rae, as well as Julian Speroni in goals who went to Crystal Palace.

“The one that got away from us was losing to Dunfermline in the 2004 semi-final. We should never have lost that.

“The Hampden game was our real opportunity. Dunfermline whipped the ball in to the back post and Craig Brewster got between myself and Bobby Mann and the header went over Mark Brown to go in.

“We had Dunfermline on the ropes that day and, had we scored a second goal, we’d have won the game. It wasn’t to be.”

Caley Thistle fans cannot wait for their side’s return to Hampden. Image: SNS

Second semi goal finished off Falkirk

In last month’s 3-0 semi-final win, Billy Mckay’s brace and Daniel Mackay’s pin-point header buried League One opponents Falkirk.

Golabek felt there was no doubt ICT earned their right to play the Hoops due to their clinical finishing.

He said: “I was impressed by Inverness and Falkirk in the semi-final.

“Falkirk, who looked a good side, had a decent chance when Callumn Morrison hit his shot too neat and it clipped off the post, but when Inverness scored their second goal, they were in control.

“Falkirk didn’t have a plan B and kept passing the ball and sticking to what they believed in.

“They could have had a better go at Inverness, but after the second goal and then the third, the game was out of reach. They ran out comfortable winners.”