Mark Atkinson looks back on Hearts’ 2-1 defeat to Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.
Teenage dream for Hickey
Aaron Hickey was the surprise inclusion to the Hearts starting XI. Just 16 years of age and with just one start to his name, the magnitude of the occasion was, on paper, too much for him. Hickey made a mockery of such an assumption. His first-half performance in particular was outstanding. He handled the threat of James Forrest well and was always looking to attack. His passing was accurate and he did not look out of place, not even when his tender years got the better of him and he started to tire. Hearts have a starlet on their hands and the teenager can be immensely proud of his performance.
A performance to be proud of
A lot of neutral spectators and even some Hearts fans were tipping Hearts to be cannon fodder in this match. Recent displays had been average at best, so such premonitions had some sort of justification. However, Hearts threw the formbook out of the window with their performance. They were disciplined, improved by return of Peter Haring in midfield. They passed the ball diligently and manufactured some threatening moments, not least for the goal. Moreover, they were not cowed by the occasion nor the opponent and got in Celtic’s faces. The only criticism of Hearts is that they toiled to settle after taking the lead. A rousing round of applause at the end of the match from the maroon faithful was a fitting appraisal of their efforts.
Hearts fans, take a bow. From 2.30pm until the final whistle, they were a wall of noise, a 12th man. Even when Celtic has wrestled control of the match, they roared on their players. This has been a difficult season and hope did not naturally spring eternal for this match, but they stuck with their players until the bitter end. The eruption when Ryan Edwards scored was seriously impressive. In a campaign that once promised so much, Hearts fans had reason to feel sorry for themselves, but they sang their lungs dry and gave their men everything. They may not have won on the pitch, but they certainly prevailed off it.
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