·29 April 2023
·29 April 2023
The Championship side emerged triumphant when the two clubs met in the 2015 final and they again proved too strong for the League One outfit.
Mckay, 34, scored from the spot after seven minutes when VAR intervened to flag up a Leon McCann handball before winger Daniel MacKay headed in a second after 34 minutes to give the Highlanders the interval lead.
Mckay grabbed his second in the 57th minute with a deft finish to confirm Caley Thistle’s second Scottish Cup final appearance ever and they will face the might of holders Rangers or Celtic, who meet in the other last-four tie at the national stadium on Sunday.
Billy Dodds’ side were knocked out of the cup by Queen’s Park in January before getting a reprieve after their Championship rivals had fielded an ineligible player, and they will need more of that fortune in the final if they are to produce an unlikely shock.
There was no surprise that the ground was well short of its 50,000-plus capacity but the Bairns had the bulk of the support for the lunchtime kick-off, although it was the Highland fans who were soon celebrating.
It was the first time either side had played under the VAR system and referee Nick Walsh went to his pitchside monitor after just five minutes when Alan Muir, in charge of the technology, spotted McCann’s flailing arm had made contact with a Jay Henderson cross.
Walsh pointed to the spot after a check and McKay sent Falkirk keeper Brian Kinnear the wrong way with a confident penalty.
The Bairns almost levelled in the 12th minute when Inverness goalkeeper Mark Ridgers came rushing out of his penalty area and miskicked a clearance to Falkirk winger Callum Morris but his shot curled away from the empty goal and struck the base of the far post before the Caley Thistle defence regrouped to smother the danger.
John McGlynn’s side were on the front foot and midway through the first half midfielder Max Kucheriavyi headed a cross into the arms of Ridgers from eight yards.
Then Kai Kennedy and Kucheriavyi had shots blocked by desperate Inverness bodies but Caley Thistle raced up the pitch and doubled their lead when Mackay, on loan from Hibernian, headed in a Jay Henderson cross from just outside the six-yard box.
It was a long way back for Falkirk but they kept going.
Moments later, defender Liam Henderson headed wide from captain Stephen McGinn’s whipped-in free-kick with defender Coll Donaldson missing the target from eight yards following an early second-half corner.
The Bairns kept battling for a lifeline which was pulled away from them when Mackay slung in a deep cross from the left and McKay nipped in to cushion the ball past Kinnear from four yards.
Just after the hour mark, Inverness’ Nathan Shaw’s deflected drive from 20 yards crashed off the post and for once Falkirk survived.
In the 67th minute a short pass-back from Caley Thistle’s Robbie Deas saw substitute Gary Oliver go round Ridgers but he somehow failed in two attempts to squeeze the ball in.
At the other end, as the game sped from end to end, Nathan Shaw curled the ball against the Falkirk post and, while the Bairns kept going – helped by a clutch of substitutes – there was no way back.
The next Scottish Cup stop for Inverness is Celtic or Rangers, but firstly they will resume their quest to get out of the Championship with that showpiece occasion on June 3 put on the backburner. Falkirk will lick their wounds and try to escape out of League One through the play-offs.