Inverness boss John Hughes can strengthen us - Josh Meekings

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Josh Meekings
Josh Meekings was cleared to play in the Scottish Cup final after being cleared of deliberate handball in the semi-final

Inverness Caledonian Thistle can continue to go from strength-to-strength under manager John Hughes, according to defender Josh Meekings.

The Premiership club won their first major trophy on Saturday, beating Falkirk to lift the Scottish Cup.

They had secured European football for the first time by finishing third - their highest-ever league position.

"We want to keep improving and we'll try our best to emulate what we've done this season," said Meekings.

The Englishman attributes this season's success in large part to the influence of Hughes, who was voted manager of the year after 18 months in a role many thought he was unsuitable for.

"I think that's what it's all about - prove people wrong, prove that you can do what they don't think you can," Meekings told BBC Scotland.

"It's days like these where he'll really enjoy it as much as we will. I think the way he wants us to play has made us move forward that bit more.

"It's been absolutely fantastic working under him and hopefully we'll be able to do it again next season.

"That'll be what the manager will want us to do. That's his drive and passion. That's what's got us this far - him behind us all the way."

Saturday's cup win came just 21 years after the club was formed, joining the Scottish Football League in the fourth tier.

But Meekings feels the strides they have made in an even shorter period are just as remarkable.

Inverness spirit shone through - Hughes

"It's absolutely unbelievable the way the club has moved forward from three, four years ago. When I came up here we were fighting relegation and trying to stay in the SPL," he continued.

"Now we're at the top of the table - the last two years we've been trying to battle for top six and this year Europe and getting to cup finals as well."

Meekings admitted there had been a time when he thought he might not play in the final after the Scottish FA's compliance officer charged him with having denied Celtic a goal with a deliberate handball in the semi-final.

But that was dismissed.

"I tried to stay as positive as I could but obviously there were a few days when I was unsure whether I would be able to play or not," he said.

"The decision was made and it's an experience I'll learn from.

"Hopefully I won't have to go through it again, but it's just part and parcel of football, that makes the win even more special."