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Billy Mckay ‘sick’ after Caley Thistle drop – but aims for quick return

Inverness were relegated into League One after losing the play-off final 5-3 on aggregate against Hamilton Accies.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle striiker and captain Billy Mckay.
Caley Jags striker and captain Billy Mckay wants to help shoot the club back from League One next year. Image: SNS

Gutted Caley Thistle captain Billy Mckay is determined to lead the club back to the Championship after suffering the pain of relegation for a fifth time in his career.

The Highland club’s record scorer, with 112 goals in 293 appearances, has suffered the drop when playing for Wigan Athletic, Dundee United and Ross County – and now twice with Inverness.

In the Championship play-off final on Saturday, a 3-2 home defeat against Hamilton Accies – 5-3 on aggregate – saw them relegated into League One.

Poor defending was a factor as Inverness’ usually solid back-line made it all too easy for Accies to cash in.

The third tier is a level the twice-Premiership side have not been at for 25 years and has left fans shell-shocked and angry.

Club record scorer for Inverness, Billy Mckay. Image: SNS.

The 35-year-old, who scored 12 goals this season, felt a crushing sense of disappointment when he spoke at full-time.

He said: “It’s so tough. I feel sick, sad, down and all the words you use when you’re not feeling too good.

“It’s one of the lowest points of my career and I’ve had some bad times. This is one of the worst I’ve felt.

“It’s been a tough season personally, too. It has clearly not gone the way I wanted it to – for the club and personally.

“I want to bounce back and have a positive year.”

‘I fully expect to be here next season’, says Mckay

Hamilton are back in the Championship just one year after being relegated via the play-offs and Mckay hopes he will be at the heart of a similar return for the Caley Jags.

He said: “I have still got a contract for next year. My plan at the moment is to come back.

“Many things are up at the minute with everyone, and more will probably come to light in the next few weeks in terms of the direction the club will go.

“I am contracted, and I fully expect to be here next season. I want to get the club back.

“It’s hard right now. But look at Hamilton, who went down last year, and they’ve come straight back up.

“That’s exactly what we want to do next season.

“It’s hard to speak about next season right now. It’s hurting and it’s sad.”

Cammy Kerr’s goal brought into back into the final at 2-1. but Kevin O’Hara’s second goal for Hamilton Accies before half-time killed the Highlanders’ chances. Alex Samuel’s stoppage-time goal for ICT was not enough as the visitors’ 5-3 aggregate win took them back to the Championship.  Image: SNS.

Results are to blame for drop – Mckay

There has been plenty of noise around the club regarding the need to secure more funds sooner rather than later.

The importance of winning an appeal over a battery farm scheme, which was rejected by Highland Council, seems to be critical to ICT with an estimated £3.4m windfall riding on the outcome.

Mckay was asked whether off-the-field issues have been a testing factor for the players.

He said: “Does it help? No. But should it affect where we finish? No.

“Ultimately, it is down to the lads on the pitch to put the performances in.

“When you look at performances, we missed out by one point of staying up automatically.

“You go back to that Raith game (in April) when we were brilliant and lost 1-0 – that day summed up our season.”

Gutted Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson at full-time. Image: SNS.

ICTFC ‘not the second-worst team in league’

Mckay, whose goal against Montrose fired ICT into the play-off final, felt Kevin O’Hara’s penalty to make it 3-1 for Hamilton just before the break finally sunk their wafer-thin chances.

He added: “We started well and had a few shots on goal.

“The first goal was a sucker-punch, but after Hamilton scored their second, we got one back and we felt a bit of momentum shifting.

“The third goal just before half-time killed the tie.

“We tried to rally in the second half, but it was a near-impossible task.

“It’s not about what happened on Saturday, or about individuals. It’s about the accumulation throughout the season.

“I absolutely didn’t think we were the second-worst team in the Championship, but we found ourselves there and we had a tough time trying to stay up and it’s not happened.”

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