Hibs youth coach James McDonaugh felt his side’s overall performance – not only their goalscoring prowess in a handsome 4-1 win – justified victory over Craigroyston in the Central Taxis League Cup final.
McDonaugh’s young charges, contesting their 75th fixture of a gruelling campaign, secured a league and cup double by overcoming Craigie just weeks after completing a successful debut campaign in the First Division, where they edged Easthouses Lily to claim the title.
“I think we surprised a few people,” said McDonaugh of Saturday’s cup final at Marine Drive. “It wasn’t just about the result for us, I think our performance overall was very good. We scored four very good goals, with good quality finishes and passing football to create the chances. To win it with a bit of composure was very pleasing.”
Lewis Allan, who was named Central Taxis First Division player of the season at a ceremony following Saturday’s final, opened the scoring and gave Hibs a 1-0 lead at half-time. Dean Horribine doubled the advantage after the break before John Dunn pulled one back for Craigroyston.
Jordan Sinclair’s volley from the edge of the box restored the two-goal margin between the sides soon after, making it 3-1 to Hibs. The scoring was complete when Aaron Dunsmore saw his efforts to make an overlapping run rewarded, the young Hibs full-back gaining possession inside the Craigie penalty area and netting a fourth goal for the eventual winners.
McDonaugh’s under-20 team has run up impressive tallies in a number of matches this season, netting seven against Dunfermline’s teenage talents and six against both Aberdeen and Ross County. The manager was not surprised, therefore, that his young men were able to construct such a comprehensive victory in a cup final.
“I’ve always had confidence in them,” said McDonaugh. “We’re a team that has scored 200 goals in all competitions this season. A big win has always been on the cards, but the boys had a tough run of games leading up to the final. People may say they are young boys and can run all day. Playing Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, the message was just ‘you’re going to get a medal – do you want it to be gold or silver’. The boys have well and truly earned their break. Their achievements have been outstanding.”
For Craigroyston assistant manager Gary Sutherland, who has seen the club denied silverware despite reaching a cup final and keeping pace with the Premier Division frontrunners for much of the season, admiration for his players’ attitude has compensated somewhat for the disappointment. “The result wasn’t a reflection on our performance,” said Sutherland of the cup final. “The boys worked their socks off and we scored a very good goal to get back into the game.
“Tiredness crept into our team but the boys tried their best and gave their all.
“We go again next season with, hopefully, a few quality signings that will help us push closer for the league title.”