Paul HANLON today revealed he and his Easter Road team-mates have consigned last season’s Scottish Cup debacle to history, claiming their full focus is on winning Sunday’s final against Celtic.
And, he insisted, Pat Fenlon’s new-look Hibs side have shown the grit and determination in reaching Hampden for the second season in succession to suggest that while it will never be entirely forgotten, they are well over the humiliation inflicted on them by Capital rivals Hearts.
Pointing out that more than half of that team are no longer pulling on a green and white shirt, he said: “It has not been mentioned a lot, we are focused on this year.
“Obviously last year was a massive game in history but that’s where it is now, history. I was devastated, you’ve gone into the biggest game of your career and it’s all gone wrong. We needed to move on and we have moved on. We’ve picked ourselves up and got back there again for which the boys deserve great credit.
“In the games we played so far in the competition we have shown great determination to get back to where we hope we can go one better.”
That steely resolve, Hanlon declared, was clearly evident not only from the measure of revenge they gained on Hearts by knocking the holders out at the first time of asking, but their subsequent wins over Aberdeen and Kilmarnock which preceded that epic semi-final against Falkirk in which Fenlon’s players came back from being three goals down at half-time to win 4-3 in extra-time.
But some of his friends hadn’t shared the belief of those within the dressing-room that day, having headed for the Hampden exits long before the interval. Agreeing he couldn’t argue with their decision at that time, Hanlon said: “It was terrible and it looked like there was no way back for us.
“I don’t know whether they headed for the pub or back to their bus, but I’m sure every fan who left regrets it because they missed such a great comeback. It was tough going for us, tough going for the fans, tough for everyone – but those who stayed would have enjoyed the second half and extra-time.”
Hanlon’s friends will be back for the final and, he hopes, they’ll be there to see Hibs lift the trophy for the first time since 1902 – although he readily acknowledges he and his team-mates face a tough match.
He said: “Celtic, home or away, is always going to be a tough game and to a man we need to be on top form because if we show any sort of weakness they will exploit it.
“Everyone will expect them to win, but in our squad we are confident. We have got three good results, three wins, so we are feeling confident and ready to go.”