John McGinn has insisted it would have been “a waste” had he been left to watch Hibs’ Championship clash with Falkirk from the stand after arriving home from international duty barely 12 hours before kick-off.
The midfielder had found himself doing exactly that on Friday night as Gordon Strachan’s Scotland lost their crucial World Cup qualifying match against England at Wembley but, he revealed, he was determined to play his part as Hibs continue to pursue promotion.
He said: “I got back to my flat about 3am on Saturday morning. It wasn’t ideal but I managed enough sleep and felt all right to help the cause. I think it would have been a waste had I sat in the stand.
“I didn’t play on Friday night and while I didn’t feel 100 per cent I felt I was fit enough to play a part and managed to get through the 90 minutes.”
As on the previous evening, however, McGinn suffered another disappointment as Falkirk – despite having to play for an hour a man short after former Hibs midfielder Tom Taiwo was sent off for a challenge on him – held Neil Lennon’s side to a 1-1 draw.
It was perhaps inevitable that McGinn was, once again, at the centre of a controversial incident against the Bairns, castigated for winning a controversial penalty last season before being sent off – although His red card was later revoked – and charged by Peter Houston of diving in an attempt to win a spot-kick, an accusation for which the Falkirk boss apologised.
“I think they are always feisty
games between two good teams,” said the 22-year-old. “Falkirk showed they are more than capable of coming to Easter Road and getting a result. They never make it easy for us, they are always up for the battle – but so are we. Both teams are contesting it, fighting. That’s what we want to see, it was another good game between two good teams.”
Houston claimed referee John Beaton and his assistant William Conquer had got it wrong in ruling Taiwo’s challenge on McGinn was worthy of a red card.
McGinn, who has been nursing an ankle problem that is likely to require surgery in the future, said: “We both went in hard for it and he caught my ankle, I was more concerned about that than anything else.
“I do not know if it was a yellow or red, that’s the ref’s decision.”
Falkirk stunned Hibs by shaking off that numerical disadvantage to take the lead through John Baird with 12 minutes to go only for Paul Hanlon’s header to salvage a point five minutes later which keeps the Edinburgh club clear at the top of the table, leading McGinn to say: “We showed character.
“But it was another poor goal to lose and that’s something we have to address. We were all disappointed at it but we came back to score a good goal and might have gone on to win it.”
That Hibs didn’t was very much down to Danny Rogers who had spent the week on stand-by for the Republic of Ireland, the Bairns goalkeeper clawing an inswinging cross from McGinn out from under his bar and then getting down to push the midfielder’s netbound shot aside, leading the Hibs player to joke: “He’s a really good goalkeeper – it’s just unfortunate he still wasn’t with the Irish squad.”
As for his own latest taste of the international scene, McGinn said: “I was really disappointed not to be involved but I respect the manager’s decision. There are a lot of good players in the squad and I am still young and have a lot of time on my hands.
“I was lucky enough to be there all week learning again so there are a lot more positives than negatives.”
The 3-0 defeat by England leaves Scotland’s hopes of qualifying for Russia in 2018 hanging by a thread, McGinn admitting each of their goals had felt “like a hammer blow”, adding: “They all came at the wrong time.
“Overall we felt we had the better chances. We didn’t take them so we have to learn to take them at the right times and be more clinical.”
An observation Hibs boss Neil Lennon would no doubt apply to his own team, having seen them totally dominate and yet be forced to settle for a point against fifth-placed Falkirk.