Jack Ross has his say on Darren McGregor Hibs performance as defender stakes claim
The players held up huge letters spelling out their thanks to the fans at the end of this match.
Manager Jack Ross had expressed similar sentiments when sending out what was primarily a team of understudies for the preceding 90 minutes.
There will have been an element of resting some key players ahead of next weekend’s Scottish Cup final but, while some mainstays were on show, Ross said the pre-eminent factor in his team selection was a desire to reward the men who have worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that the standards demanded of the first-team regulars were not allowed to slip.
“It was fitting to finish the season that way because we had so many players involved who haven’t played regularly,” said Ross, “but deserved it for their contribution on the training pitch and for the standards they’ve helped us to keep. It has helped us have a successful season. We had to be resilient and work incredibly hard today but I’m really pleased they got a reward from the game and got a point. “
With third place already secured, in a wider context it was a meaningless game but, producing a battling defensive display that belied that fact and denied Celtic the victory their greater possession and shots at goal tally possibly merited, several of the players used it to promote themselves in the mind of their manager.
Among them was Darren McGregor, whose no-nonsense approach in the past three games, and ability to spot danger and respond, will undoubtedly amplify calls for the 35 year-old 2016 cup winner to start.
“His performance level has been brilliant and we’ve finished with three clean sheets,” acknowledged Ross, “and, as much as we had been playing well, that was a little bit problematic in the latter part of the season. He’s trained every day which has helped the condition he’s in. His mental strength is up there as well.
“But our approach is exactly the same as every game. You maybe make up your mind a little bit earlier in terms of how we’re going to play but I’ve said to the players they have to enjoy the week and the build up. It’s not often clubs get there regularly. There will be excitement.“