Hibs have earned the right to be in the Scottish Cup final despite narrowly avoiding relegation by finishing second bottom of the SPL, Easter Road first-team coach Liam O’Brien insisted today.
And the Irishman urged Pat Fenlon’s stars to go on and make history by lifting the trophy for the first time since – as he put it – “Jesus Christ was in short trousers.”
The Scottish Cup eluded great Hibs teams of the past such as the Famous Five and Turnbull’s Tornadoes, as 110 years without that piece of silverware have elapsed. But now a side thrown together by Fenlon with the sole aim of avoiding relegation stands only 90 minutes from making history.
But while some have questioned whether a side consisting largely of loan players could rightly be accorded iconic status should they beat Hearts at Hampden, O’Brien has no doubt they will deserve all that might come their way.
The former Manchester United, Newcastle and Republic of Ireland defender said: “There are plenty of players and managers who have never got to a Cup final, never had the chance to win it, but these lads have an opportunity to make history and I hope that will happen.
“It hasn’t happened for all those great players down through the years but now history can be written and these players have earned the right to be there,
“You can only beat what is put in front of you and that’s what they have done in every round, so they deserve to be in the final.”
O’Brien accepts it’s been a bitterly disappointing season for Hibs who only secured their SPL status in the penultimate game of the campaign, but it is one which could end on the greatest high imaginable.
He said: “Our main aim when we came in was to keep the club in the SPL and we managed to do that. We’ve had a fantastic run to get to the final which is a massive achievement.
“The way the season has gone for us no-one would have predicted that but now we could cap it off by turning what has been a really poor season into a fantastic one.”
O’Brien revealed he’d quickly learned of Hibs’ Cup hoodoo when he joined Fenlon at Easter Road following the sacking of Colin Calderwood. He said: “We were asked to do a job and a week later you are told the last time Hibs won the Cup Jesus Christ was wearing short trousers.
“It’s been a long time, you hear it every week but now there’s a great chance for us.”
The fact Saturday will be the first all-Edinburgh derby for 116 years has made the build-up to the final “manic” to quote Fenlon, the Hibs boss having taken his players away for a few days to escape the hype which has been cranked up to fever pitch.
And O’Brien admitted ensuring they don’t get too caught up in the occasion is a priority saying: “It’s a game of football, there’s 90 minutes to win it and that’s what we will be telling them.
“I think it’s gripped the imagination of everyone.
“It’s great for the city of Edinburgh but unfortunately one of us is going to be unhappy come Saturday night.
“Hopefully it won’t be Hibs.”