The hurt of crashing out of the Scottish Communities Cup is still raw, the realisation of just what a great chance they’d missed of a piece of Hampden glory just sinking in.
But today Hibs winger Danny Galbraith urged his Easter Road team-mates to “get over it” as they face the daunting task of facing Celtic again tomorrow just three days on from the 4-1 hammering which saw Colin Calderwood’s side plummet from ecstacy to despair. After taking a fourth-minute lead in Wednesday night’s quarter-final tie, Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths passed up a glorious chance to double the Edinburgh club’s advantage, a miss which Celtic punished mercilessly with a four-goal second half blitz.
However, Galbraith insisted Calderwood’s players can pick themselves up off the floor as they head along the M8 well aware they’ve already been written off with the only question exercising those who enjoy a fixed odds flutter of a Saturday being how many Celtic can score this time round.
The 20-year-old said: “I think it depends on how you look at it. You could say it’s not ideal, but on the other hand it gives us a chance to quickly get Wednesday night out of our system. It’s not a normal occurrence to be playing the same team again and obviously it would have been great to have got the result going into this game but now we have to forget about what happened and concentrate on trying to get the three points.
“We have to remember we start again at 0-0, it’s not as if we’re going into this match 4-1 down before a ball is kicked.”
Griffiths’ spurned opening aside – Galbraith reflecting it was yet another example of the maxim that you must take any chances presented against either side of the Old Firm – the biggest disappointment, according to the former Manchester United player, was the ease with which Celtic got their goals, James Forrest equalising with the first of a double before Anthony Stokes and Gary Hooper got themselves on the scoresheet.
He said: “Losing the equaliser so quickly after half-time was a big blow. The last thing the manager said was to make sure we didn’t concede early but before we knew it, it was 1-1 and all the hard work we had done went out of the window. We were still in the game, though, and remained so even when it went 2-1. We still had the chance to dig in but we were almost our own worst enemies in that we never really made them work to get their goals. The manner in which we conceded was really disappointing.”
With Kilmarnock the only other SPL side remaining in the competition following Falkirk’s and Ayr United’s shock wins over Dundee United and St Mirren respectively, Galbraith admitted everyone at Easter Road realised the chance they’d let slip.
He said: “It was probably one of the best opportunities to make the final or win a trophy but there’s nothing we can do about it. Now the League, and trying to haul ourselves up the table, has to be the priority, at least until the Scottish Cup kicks in. Obviously people are saying we have not had a great start to the season but, in fact, if you look at the table, we are just one point off sixth place so something from tomorrow and other results going our way can make it a great day for us.”
Hibs, though, will have to buck the trend if they are to do so having suffered seven straight defeats by Celtic, conceding 18 goals and scoring just five since Galbraith scored a dramatic last-gasp winner at Celtic Park almost two years ago.
The memory of that moment will, he admitted, probably cross his mind as he sits on the team coach bound for Glasgow but, he insisted, it’s the future and not living in the past which counts. He said: “You can’t afford to dwell on past matches, the important thing is to get the right result in the next one.
“Not many teams go to places like Celtic Park and Ibrox and come away winners but we’ve shown we can do it and perhaps another one is a bit overdue. Seven defeats isn’t a good record so we’ll want to try to make sure it doesn’t get much more than that.”
Galbraith conceded most of the fans who pack into the ground in the east of Glasgow tomorrow will do so anticipating a few more goals in favour of Neil Lennon’s side, but insisted Calderwood’s players are capable of punishing complacency which might creep in.
He said: “The Celtic supporters in particular might be thinking of an easy win but when they look at the first half on Wednesday night the last thing their players will be saying it was an easy game for them.
“It was a heavy defeat in the end but I don’t think the final scoreline gives the full picture. It was far from straightforward from their point-of-view although they got a bit of breathing space towards the end with us down to ten men. It was always going to be easier for them after that but up to half-time they knew they were in a game but in future all people will remember is the final result. If there is any complacency then hopefully we can take advantage.”
Although Hibs’ defence has looked far from secure on numerous occasions this season, Galbraith pointed out that Celtic’s back four has also looked less than convincing and believes that in Garry O’Connor, Junior Agogo, Griffiths and Akpo Sodje the Edinburgh side do have the firepower to cause an upset. He said: “Celtic haven’t really had a settled back four all season and with the strikers we have, if we can get the service to them, they will create opportunities which they are more than likely to take.”