Daryl Horgan: I wanted to be part of those Hibs Scottish Cup celebrations
Daryl Horgan sat at home in Ireland watching the incredible scenes unfold as Hibs ended their 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup and admitted he'd love to have been a part of it.
Now he has the chance to enjoy his own day out at Hampden, a Betfred Cup semi-final at the national stadium the reward if Hibs can overcome Aberdeen at Easter Road tonight.
Such trips have become a common occurrence for the Capital club in recent seasons, but having drawn with the Dons in Edinburgh only a few weeks ago, Horgan sees no reason why he and his team-mates can’t go one better this time round.
“A trip to Hampden would be fantastic,” he said, “and you want to get to the trip after as well and hopefully we can do it.
“Aberdeen will be a very tough game. We thought we played well a few weeks ago, although we had to get the late goal to equalise. It was a good, high quality game and we’ll be expecting another.”
Horgan knows all about the highs and lows of cup football. He won and lost the Irish Cup final in successive seasons – both after extra-time and both against Cork – while with Dundalk but, he admitted, watching Hibs beat Rangers in that historic final two years ago took his breath away.
The former Preston North End winger said: “I watched it and it was a really good game, an unbelievable game with the late header and, obviously, you had my fellow Irishman [Anthony] Stokes being brilliant on the day.
“The scenes were incredible, it would be something I’ve love to be part of. I didn’t see the following day but I’m guessing that was okay too. That’s why everyone plays, you want to win trophies and it was such a long time since they had done it. For them to do it in such dramatic circumstances against Rangers was brilliant.
“A lot of the build-up was about the two Championship sides meeting. It was interesting and captivating. It was a great game, a great advertisement for Scottish football.
“My own cup memories are a bit mixed. I’ve won one and lost one. When we won Richie Towell scored in the 107th minute or so and then we were beaten the following year with a late, late deflection.
“That was a tough one to take, but they’re great days, very difficult to get to, but when you do you have to make the most of it. When we won the double it was a really great time for us and the town.”
After a run of three games without a win, including that disappointing defeat by Premiership newcomers Livingston, Horgan believes back-to-back victories over Kilmarnock and Dundee are, hopefully, an indication that things are beginning to come together for Neil Lennon’s new-look side.
The Republic of Ireland internationalist said: “We had those three without a win, but the performances against St Johnstone and Aberdeen were very good and probably warranted three points. But it’s great we’ve now come into it.
“It’s all positive signs and hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”
The wins against Killie and Dundee also brought six goals shared among five players, head coach Neil Lennon having adopted a 4-3-3 formation which sees Horgan and Martin Boyle on the flanks either side of striker Flo Kamberi, who scored in each of those games.
Horgan said: “The manager sets us up to play attacking football, to be on the front foot. We want to be constantly at teams and try to get goals and they’ve been getting shared around, while the brand and style of football has been brilliant.”
Champions Celtic’s stuttering start to the season and their weekend defeat by Kilmarnock has raised hopes that, at last, Scottish football will see a true title fight, but while admitting it was good to see that no team is unbeatable, Horgan insisted he and his team-mates were focusing purely on themselves.
The 26-year-old said: “When you are at the top then you are there to be shot at. Everyone comes for you and every loss is seen as a disaster.
“It is difficult for them at the moment, but they have a lot of experience and I’m sure they will bounce back.
“It’s early in the season. Hearts have hit the ground running, Livingston are right up there as well after beating us.
“There is competition at the top of the table, which is good for the game, but there is a lot of football to play. We must have to try and keep picking up points and pushing upwards.
“Hopefully we can go as far as possible in every competition and finish as high as possible in the league. You will have a better idea when you have played everybody in the league.
“We want to be back in Europe at the very minimum and win a trophy. If we keep winning games, who knows what will happen. We have a strong squad and the competition for places is fierce.”
• Gareth Evans has rejoined Hibs for a third spell to become the club’s Head of Youth.
The 51-year-old, a former player and reserve team coach at Easter Road, will oversee the under-13 to under-16 age groups within the Hibernian Academy.