Ciaran Diver’s debut for Edinburgh City didn’t quite go to plan. The 18-year-old forward, who has joined on loan from Celtic, was thrust into the limelight just 48 hours later when he was tasked with keeping the club’s Irn-Bru Challenge Cup final hopes alive.
With the tie against Welsh top-tier outfit Connah’s Quay’s Nomads having failed to produce a winner after 120 minutes at the Deeside Stadium, it came down to who could hold their nerve from 12 yards.
And with the shootout having reached sudden death, and Connah’s George Horan converting to make it 5-4 in favour of the hosts, Diver knew he had to score.
“It was really disappointing I couldn’t make an impact,” the youngster explained ahead of this weekend’s return to league action with the visit of Cowdenbeath. “I felt confident. To be fair the whole time we were away I had a funny feeling it would go to penalties so I always had my mind on taking one. As soon as the gaffer asked who wanted to take one I put my hand straight up.
“I usually hit two or three penalties when we’re collecting the kit in after training. Even on the day of the match we were training and I took a couple then just to be on the safe side. But it’s just one of those things. If the goalie goes the other way then it’s a goal.
“To be fair the lads were brand new with me in the changing room after. I want to make it up to the boys because I could see how gutted they were after having managed to get so far. Even though Craig [Thomson] missed too, I feel it was down to me that they’re not in the final so I want to try and help them as much as I can. But I’d take a penalty again if given the chance.
“I loved the experience of playing in front of a big crowd and just the whole set up so I really enjoyed myself apart from the result. It was great to make my debut in a semi–final. The boys were out on their feet, especially the ones that played the whole match. Connah’s were a physical side and although it wasn’t pretty on the eye, it was effective.”
Erskine-based Diver had spent the first half of this season on loan at Ladbrokes League One outfit Stranraer but revealed it wasn’t to his liking. He is now desperate to get as much game time under his belt with James McDonaugh’s men.
And with his contract at the Premiership champions due to expire in a couple of months, he is hoping to use a League Two winners’ medal as a bargaining tool as he bids to earn himself a new deal in the east end of Glasgow.
“I didn’t really enjoy it down at Stranraer,” Diver said. “We used to train five minutes from my house which was handy but I didn’t like their style. I didn’t get much of a chance so it was difficult to stay motivated and after training during the day with Celtic, to go out and train at night was the last thing I wanted to do.
“But Edinburgh City are a really good fit for me. From my first training session I loved it. I feel a lot more positive about the next few months. Hopefully I can help them win the league. It’s a good team with some really strong players who have played at the top level. They like to get the ball down and pass.
“I’m looking forward to getting out on the park tomorrow so hopefully I’m given the opportunity and we can pick up three points.”