James Keatings admits the last week of Hibs’ season has been the ultimate emotional roller-coaster after he and his team-mates went from misery to happiness in the space of just eight days.
The agonising play-off defeat at Falkirk a week past Friday left the Easter Road side staring at the possibility of a this ending up a terrible campaign, according to the striker.
But Saturday’s Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers ensured they ended it in the most spectacular and glorious fashion imaginable. “It was a horrendous feeling that night, after that game at Falkirk, but that’s football,” said Keatings. “There are always lows and highs, and now we have this massive high.
“It could have been a terrible season for us, but this cup means everything to this club. We could see fans crying and showing their emotions. We wanted to go and do it for them after the season we have had and we managed to do it.
“As a boy, you dream of these things. You watch on the telly and see your heroes scoring in cup finals. Now I have played in one and can say I have won it. My full family were here and about 20 friends as well. It was great. When we scored the third goal, my two mates were at the front and I got a cuddle with them in the celebrations.”
Keatings’ day started on a downer when he learned that he wouldn’t be starting the match despite scoring a double in the defeat at Falkirk. He eventually came on with Hibs trailing 2-1. “Obviously I was disappointed when the manager read out the team before the game,” he explained. “But I respected his decision. The team did a job and I came on and played my part.
“The manager hadn’t spoken to me before he named the team. I don’t think he did with any of the players. We found out the team just before we went out for the warm-up, so it was just about preparing from then.
“Of course it was disappointing but I have been there before. I sat on the bench and kept thinking that I was going to score the winner. I was just about to come on when [Andy] Halliday scored. It wasn’t good coming on to that because they were on the front foot. But there was great character from the squad to come back and win it. It shows what we have in that dressing room.”