Roddy MacGregor believes Inverness’ performance in the 3-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic can boost their promotion confidence for next season.
The Championship side had beaten cinch Premiership outfits Livingston and Kilmarnock on their way to Saturday’s Hampden Park showpiece but had finished sixth in the league.
Celtic proved too tough an opponent as goals from attackers Kyogo Furuhashi, substitute Liel Abada and Jota completed the domestic treble with Caley Thistle replacement Dan MacKay’s header a consolation.
However, MacGregor – a late second-half substitute for Scott Allardice – insists positives can be taken from the performance going into next season.
The 21-year-old midfielder said: “We went toe-to-toe with the best team in the country at the moment and in previous rounds we had beaten Premiership teams.
“It just shows that when we are on our game we can give any team a game and that definitely gives us confidence going into next season.
“We were disappointed obviously, it is never nice to lose in such a big game. It is not a nice feeling.
“Up against a team like Celtic it is always going to be tricky but I think we did reasonably well and limited their chances.
“We genuinely thought we could win the game and that’s the sign of a good dressing room and we are looking to go again next season and hopefully we have a fully-fit squad.”
MacKay, on loan from Hibernian, was pleased that Inverness proved the doom-mongers wrong with their spirited performance.
The 22-year-old winger said: “The boys can be proud of themselves. We put up a really good battle.
“Everyone doubted us and said it would be six or seven nil but we proved them wrong and showed that a Championship team that was midtable was more than a match at times for Celtic but they were clinical at the end of the day.
“If you get a goal you never know what can happen in these games. Pressure happens and chances come and go in games.
“We took our chance but unfortunately we never got another chance and Celtic were clinical.
“But we need to be proud, it was an achievement getting there.”
Asked about his future with Hibs, he said: “I don’t know yet. I wait to see what happens.”