Hibs midfielder John McGinn insists he and his team-mates have earned their place in Scottish Cup folklore after their stunning run to William Hill Scottish Cup glory.
The Scotland internationalist couldn’t contain his delight as the Easter Road side overturned a 2-1 deficit to lift the Cup after a titanic tussle with Premiership new boys Rangers – Anthony Stokes levelling the match at 2-2 with ten minutes to play before club captain David Gray rose unmarked two minutes into stoppage time to bring the club’s tortuous 114-year wait for the trophy to an end.
McGinn, Hibs’ player of the year, was in inspired form at Hampden and capped off a great first year in a green-and-white jersey after joining on a four-year deal from St Mirren last summer.
And, as McGinn was keen to point out, the teams he and his team-mates have eliminated en route to the final have hardly been short on quality with Championship rivals Raith Rovers their lowest-ranked opponents upon entering the competition at the fourth round stage in January.
A crack at city rivals Hearts was the reward for victory in Kirkcaldy with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. And, despite being two goals down at Tynecastle with little more than ten minutes remaining, Hibs fought back to earn a replay as Paul Hanlon snatched an injury-time equaliser. Nine days later, Jason Cummings sealed a place in the last eight with the only goal of the game in the replay.
Another replay was required to see off holders Inverness, those games sandwiching the 2-1 League Cup final defeat to Ross County.
Nevertheless, a 4-2 win on penalties over yet another Premiership side, Dundee United, in last month’s semi-final moved Alan Stubbs’ men to within 90 minutes of obtaining immortality among Hibs supporters – a shot at glory this group of players wouldn’t dare pass up.
“We’ve done it the hard way all season. It was a hard route to the final so nobody could take away that we deserved to be there,” McGinn said. “We’re just delighted we’ve got something to show for it. From the day I signed here, it was drummed into me how important the cup is, especially to the Hibs fans. I think ever since the Hearts game we knew we could come back from being a goal or two behind.
“I had a feeling all week. I don’t know why but I just had this feeling. So many things have gone against us in the past couple of months so I felt something had to change. We wanted to get the club back up into the top flight so we were even more determined to get the trophy back to Leith.”
At just 21, McGinn is hopeful he will have many more days like Saturday ahead of him. Having played an instrumental role in a St Mirren side that lifted the League Cup in 2013, the youngster is eager to carry on that winning mentality next season.
“It’s been an amazing career so far and if continues like this, I think I’m going to enjoy it,” he said. “I’ve got a League Cup medal, now a Scottish Cup one, perhaps I can get that league medal next year. We’re in Europe but our main aim next year will again be promotion so hopefully it will be a good year again next season.
“I’ve been told I’ll never have to buy a drink in Edinburgh again so I’ll be out every week! I’m just jealous I’m not David Gray! He’s the captain, he’s a great role model and thankfully he’s the hero.”