Hearts head coach Ian Cathro insists there was no ‘malice’ involved in not shaking Peterhead counterpart Jim McInally’s hand following Tuesday’s bitterly disappointing defeat at the Balmoor stadium.
McInally branded Cathro ‘disrespectful’ for apparently snubbing the post match protocol and failing to give the League Two part-timers any credit for their Group B upset.
But former Newcastle United and Valencia coach Cathro reckons he did nothing wrong.
“At that point, they were still in the middle of their party and celebrations.
“I lingered for a split-second but I was naturally disappointed at that point.
“So rather than wait any longer, I went inside because I was dealing with my own things, my own team and my own priorities.
“I missed Jim in that situation and when I went to do the media. I know the staff went to see Jim specifically, congratulated Peterhead and wished them well this weekend.
“There are circumstances around these things. It doesn’t automatically mean malice or wrong behaviour.
“There was no intention for that to be the case.
“Would I call him? No. I have no problem but everybody has phones.”
Tuesday’s defeat has left Hearts needing to beat Dunfermline today to boost their chances of reaching that last-16 of the competition and Cathro admits his side need to show an immediate response to that set-back.
He added: “We have to move on quickly but, naturally, losing those sorts of games brings additional pressure and puts a bigger value on the next game.
“It’s also important that we’ve played three games and we’ve won two of them.
“Some of those games were quite good, some of it wasn’t us good, but we won two games. We lost one game, it’s disappointing as our expectation was to go and win the game.
“Saturday is a big game but it would’ve been irrespective [of Tuesday] because you want to progress in the competition.
“We wanted to be top of the group so, irrespective of anything that had gone before it, this game was going to be a very big game.
“It’s also the last home game that we play for a while, it’s a TV game which is another highlight on it and for the new players joining us. They feel a game of importance.
“We want to leave our last game at Tynecastle looking forward to going back to it, so it’s a game of that level of importance.”