Paul Heffernan ‘gutted’ to be missing cup derby

Hibs player Paul Heffernan is cup-tied for Wednesday's clash with Hearts. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Hibs player Paul Heffernan is cup-tied for Wednesday's clash with Hearts. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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Paul Heffernan today admitted he was “gutted” to be missing his first Edinburgh derby as he is ineligible to play in Wednesday ’s League Cup quarter-final against Hearts.

The Easter Road hitman will have to watch from the stand beacause a cameo appearance as a substitute for former club Kilmarnock as they crashed to First Division Hamilton has resulted in him being cup-tied as Pat Fenlon’s players eye a third cup final in as many seasons.

With the Rugby Park outfit trailing to a goal by former Hibs hitman Mikael Antoine-Curier, Killie boss Allan Johnston threw Heffernan into action but to no avail in what, ironically, turned out to be his last match for the Ayrshire club.

Only two days later, the 31-year-old made his shock move to Edinburgh after being told he was free to leave Kilmarnock and he has already made his mark, his arrival coinciding with an upturn in Hibs’ fortunes. Following a poor start to the season, his third goal for his new club earned a well-deserved point against Premiership leaders Celtic last weekend.

But now Heffernan has had to come to terms with the fact that those final few minutes for Killie means he will not only be sidelined when the Jambos come across the city for Wednesday night’s quarter-final clash but, should Fenlon’s side be successful, the semi-final and final itself, as Hibs believe they can go all the way with Celtic having been the victims of a giant-killing act by Morton.

Today Heffernan said: “I’m gutted. I’d love to have played against Hearts, but those ten or 15 minutes in the Hamilton game means I’m cup-tied. But hopefully there will be plenty more Edinburgh derbies for me in the future.”

There’s no option for Heffernan but to follow Fenlon’s orders to ignore the second derby of the season and concentrate on today’s League clash with Aberdeen, the second of three “massive” matches for Hibs in just 12 days.

The game offers Fenlon’s players the opportunity to leapfrog the Dons should they take all three points and also, according to Dublin-born Heffernan, the chance for him and his team-mates, having lost only once in their last nine outings, to assess where they stand in comparison to a side which many believe to be favourites to end the season runners-up to Celtic in the title chase.

He said: “I think Aberdeen will want to finish up there. They have brought in some very good players, they spent some money in the summer and I think this will be a good test for us to see where we are.”

Outwith Celtic, Heffernan believes that for the most part the top flight of Scottish football is “much of a muchness”, with the key to success being, in his estimation, that old footballing cliche of “consistency.” He said: “If you are well-organised, give yourself a chance to win every game and have a little bit of luck along the way, as we had last Saturday, then hopefully we can do that.

That “little bit of luck” was the offside flag which never came as he put Hibs ahead against Celtic, the striker admitting he got the benefit of the doubt as he was clearly at least a yard off when he followed the cardinal rule of any striker – to play to the whistle.

The failure of assistant ref Tom Murphy to spot that fact incurred – as did Hibs’ “strong-arm tactics” as he perceived them – the ire of Neil Lennon, but Heffernan insists he had sympathy for the official while, like everyone else at Easter Road, he refutes the accusations of the Hoops manager.

The rub of the green Fenlon’s team enjoyed in that instance perhaps helped counter the ill-fortune they suffered in the opening two games of the season when Hibs went down 1-0 to Motherwell and then Hearts, both of which place before Heffernan’s arrival.

“The lads they say that in the first couple of games there wasn’t a lot in them but we lost by the odd goal, that’s maybe all it takes,” he said. “I think the first goal is very important. Get yourselves in front and it gives you a platform to hold on to.”

Some have seen Heffernan as the catalyst for Hibs’ resurgence but, as he pointed out, Fenlon’s players had travelled to Rugby Park and won the week before he crossed the country to sign a two-year deal. He said: “Since I came in we’ve won three, drawn two and lost one of the games I’ve played in. The team is on a good run, but if you look at most of the results there’s only the one goal between most of the teams.

“We seem to be on the right side of that at the minute and, the Inverness game apart, we’ve been well-organised and creating chances which, as a striker, is all you want the team to do.”

The Easter Road hitman will have to watch from the stand beacause a cameo appearance as a substitute for former club Kilmarnock as they crashed to First Division Hamilton has resulted in him being cup-tied as Pat Fenlon’s players eye a third cup final in as many seasons.

With the Rugby Park outfit trailing to a goal by former Hibs hitman Mikael Antoine-Curier, Killie boss Allan Johnston threw Heffernan into action but to no avail in what, ironically, turned out to be his last match for the Ayrshire club.

Only two days later, the 31-year-old made his shock move to Edinburgh after being told he was free to leave Kilmarnock and he has already made his mark, his arrival coinciding with an upturn in Hibs’ fortunes. Following a poor start to the season, his third goal for his new club earned a well-deserved point against Premiership leaders Celtic last weekend.

But now Heffernan has had to come to terms with the fact that those final few minutes for Killie means he will not only be sidelined when the Jambos come across the city for Wednesday night’s quarter-final clash but, should Fenlon’s side be successful, the semi-final and final itself, as Hibs believe they can go all the way with Celtic having been the victims of a giant-killing act by Morton.

Today Heffernan said: “I’m gutted. I’d love to have played against Hearts, but those ten or 15 minutes in the Hamilton game means I’m cup-tied. But hopefully there will be plenty more Edinburgh derbies for me in the future.”

There’s no option for Heffernan but to follow Fenlon’s orders to ignore the second derby of the season and concentrate on today’s League clash with Aberdeen, the second of three “massive” matches for Hibs in just 12 days.

The game offers Fenlon’s players the opportunity to leapfrog the Dons should they take all three points and also, according to Dublin-born Heffernan, the chance for him and his team-mates, having lost only once in their last nine outings, to assess where they stand in comparison to a side which many believe to be favourites to end the season runners-up to Celtic in the title chase.

He said: “I think Aberdeen will want to finish up there. They have brought in some very good players, they spent some money in the summer and I think this will be a good test for us to see where we are.”

Outwith Celtic, Heffernan believes that for the most part the top flight of Scottish football is “much of a muchness”, with the key to success being, in his estimation, that old footballing cliche of “consistency.” He said: “If you are well-organised, give yourself a chance to win every game and have a little bit of luck along the way, as we had last Saturday, then hopefully we can do that.

That “little bit of luck” was the offside flag which never came as he put Hibs ahead against Celtic, the striker admitting he got the benefit of the doubt as he was clearly at least a yard off when he followed the cardinal rule of any striker – to play to the whistle.

The failure of assistant ref Tom Murphy to spot that fact incurred – as did Hibs’ “strong-arm tactics” as he perceived them – the ire of Neil Lennon, but Heffernan insists he had sympathy for the official while, like everyone else at Easter Road, he refutes the accusations of the Hoops manager.

The rub of the green Fenlon’s team enjoyed in that instance perhaps helped counter the ill-fortune they suffered in the opening two games of the season when Hibs went down 1-0 to Motherwell and then Hearts, both of which place before Heffernan’s arrival.

“The lads they say that in the first couple of games there wasn’t a lot in them but we lost by the odd goal, that’s maybe all it takes,” he said. “I think the first goal is very important. Get yourselves in front and it gives you a platform to hold on to.”

Some have seen Heffernan as the catalyst for Hibs’ resurgence but, as he pointed out, Fenlon’s players had travelled to Rugby Park and won the week before he crossed the country to sign a two-year deal. He said: “Since I came in we’ve won three, drawn two and lost one of the games I’ve played in. The team is on a good run, but if you look at most of the results there’s only the one goal between most of the teams.

“We seem to be on the right side of that at the minute and, the Inverness game apart, we’ve been well-organised and creating chances which, as a striker, is all you want the team to do.”