Garry O’Connor’s goals and Mark Brown’s reflex saves grabbed all the headlines for Hibs in their Scottish Communuities League Cup success over Motherwell on Tuesday, but young midfielder Danny Galbraith shone brightly on his return to first-team action. He had waited four weeks for his chance having played his part in the previous round against Berwick, but he grasped the opportunity with great appetite, his marauding runs drawing praise from manager Colin Calderwood and providing a boost of confidence to the player himself.
“It was a great game more than anything,” said Galbraith, as he reflected on the 2-2 draw which led to the Hibees clinch a quarter-final spot 7-6 on penalties.
“To come out on top after such an end-to-end match means everything. Hopefully, that’s the springboard we need to climb up the league.
“I was happy with my own performance. It’s hard when you haven’t featured for a few weeks, but to get thrown back into a game situation is what you want. I just try and do my best. I don’t want to sit on the bench, that’s the last thing I want to be doing. I want to be playing in the team every week, so it was a chance for me to show the manager what I can do and, hopefully in the time I had, I managed to do that.”
In Calderwood’s view, Galbraith certainly succeeded, the Hibs boss saying: “Danny put their back four on the back foot and was able to take the ball from the middle of the park and be in control of it.
“We looked like we had someone who could pass, dribble and run through the midfield. It looked a nice balance.”
If Galbraith was slowly but surely playing his way back into contention for a regular first-team start with a stellar performance in Lanarkshire, his progress was curtailed by an ankle knock that forced his departure midway through extra time. I’m gutted obviously, but apart from that I was happy to get on at half-time and play a good 60 minutes. I felt we played really well in the second half and I was happy to be a part of that.
“I was gutted to have to come off, but delighted to see the lads get us through. I think we deserved it. We’ve maybe not had the rub of the green recently. I don’t think we could have given any more and I think we got what we deserved.”
While Hibs’ victory came as just reward for their resilience and resolutely positive attitude, Galbraith’s opportunity in the first team was down to similar reasons.
“I train my hardest every day but I’m at the point I want to be playing every week. I don’t want to just be part of the squad. Especially when we’re not doing that well, it’s hard when you’re sitting watching when you want to make an impact and help the team..
“The difference in the games is the pressure on us at the minute. Everyone can train without pressure, but going into a game situation is completely different. The most pleasing thing is the fact that after going behind we managed to come back. At the weekend when [Dunfermline] got the equaliser at 2-2, it looked if anyone was going to win it would be Dunfermline. The fact we kept going and pushing [against Motherwell] and eventually, albeit through penalties, got what we deserved is the most important thing and probably something we haven’t showed in a while.”
Before Tuesday night at Fir Park, the last SPL opposition against whom Galbraith started a match was this weekend’s visitors to Easter Road, Dundee United. However, almost eight months have passed since the former Manchester United youngster and his team-mates suffered that 3-0 defeat at Tannadice. Though the United team that comes to Leith this weekend will bear a wholly different complexion to that which humbled Galbraith and Co in late-January, the 21-year-old admits Hibs will again be tasked with containing a difficult opponent on Saturday.
“It will be very tough,” he said. “They’ve been top six the last few years and have qualified for Europe. We know it’s going to be a hard game. We’re at home, so we need to show the fans who came to Fir Park and those who turn up on Saturday another really good performance.”
Having been handed a new two-year deal by Calderwood in January, Galbraith is determined to take his chances in a similar manner to that which he achieved at Motherwell.
“Colin hasn’t said too much [about my first-team prospects] – bits and pieces,” said Galbraith. “I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, it’s just that I haven’t had the chance yet. If I get the chance and play well, like anyone else I deserve to stay in the team. When my chance comes I need to make sure he can’t leave me out.”