Never in my lifetime did I think I would have to contemplate an Edinburgh Derby Scottish Cup final. However, after this weekend’s results, it is something that will now inhabit my mind from now until the big day arrives. I have always had a belief that anything can happen in cup football but it would be fair to say both teams earned the right to return to the national stadium next month.
I felt the desire shown by the Hibs players in Saturday’s victory over Aberdeen was the difference between the sides which, ultimately, got us through the tie. I will concede Aberdeen had the majority of possession, particularly in the second-half, but we did look the most threatening when going forward with Leigh Griffiths and Garry O’Connor proving extremely effective.
With most cup fixtures, luck can often play a huge part in deciding the final outcome, but I felt this was never an issue against Aberdeen as we fully merited our victory. However, it’s imperative we find additional support for the strikers in the remaining fixtures of the campaign which will enable our defensive players to push forward and not sit so deep within our own territory as this style of play can only encourage the opposition to attack.
In Hearts’ case, they also warrant their place in the final after a really solid display against Celtic. In Craig Beattie, they have found a gem who has certainly brought an extra dimension to their strike-force since his arrival. It goes without saying that this special day will be fulfilled with nerves from all supporters. The very thought just now makes me shiver in anticipation but I just hope the Hibs players don’t freeze when the moment arrives.
With the stakes at an all-time peak, and the biggest build-up to this fixture there is ever likely to be, it will be impossible for the players to shirk away from the attention such a showpiece final deserves. The squad will need little reminding as to what victory would mean for everyone connected with the club. This is their opportunity to achieve something no player in the green and white has done for over a century and become living legends of Hibernian. The other plus points for the manager will be the competition for places for the final itself. The calibre of this fixture requires little incentive which should ensure a competitive spirit within the camp where everyone will hope of having their say in the most eagerly awaited fixture between the two rivals. This is an occasion to relish for all who take to the field on May 19 – the pinnacle of their football careers.
The banter between friends, family and work colleagues can now commence but this is sure to be surpassed when the final whistle sounds at 4.45pm on the Hampden turf. How ironic would it be if we were to finally end our Scottish Cup hoodoo against our neighbours? I suspect most Hibs fans would agree the 110 year wait would be all the worthwhile.
Now that the clubs who will contest the Scottish Cup final has been decided, we must turn our attention back to the SPL and make sure we finish the job that will see us remain in the Premier League for next season. As difficult as it may be, I am sure Pat Fenlon will be telling his players to put next month’s final to the back of their minds and focus on the task in hand.
Only if our safety is secured should we even contemplate the game against Hearts as surviving relegation is still our number one priority. Some may disagree, but I can’t help feel we must conquer this demon first before we can begin to turn our attentions elsewhere.
With a season that has offered so much despair, we may be about to witness a new milestone at the club with a very exciting, yet tense, finale in prospect. I think we would all agree that our run-in has now taken on a new dimension with our cup final place ensured but let’s just hope this will be a season to treasure for every Hibs supporter.