“I’ve lost two finals so that’s a bitter taste in my mouth,” said the midfielder. “I want to try to get one under my belt. I do feel we’ve got a very good squad.
“Rangers and Celtic are the top two teams in the country and are going to be hard to beat, but I think we’ve shown on a couple of occasions this year that we can more than compete. There are five hurdles in the cup and we’ve managed to get through the first.”
It was Halliday who sparked the victory at tiny Beechwood Park with a diving header to open the scoring on 14 minutes. “Yeah, it’s certainly not something I’ve done too often in my career – or played No 10. So there were a couple of new strings to my bow today,” he said.
Relished the freedom of an advanced midfield role, he continued: “Playing in there myself, I thought it was important to create as many overloads as I could in the middle of the pitch as they were always going to be pretty compact and make it difficult for us.
“Credit to our midfielders. I thought they found myself and Baz [McKay] in there quite a bit. We managed to create quite a few chances. I’m hearing that the linesman had a bit of a shocker for a couple in the first half as well. So it could have ben a little bit more comfortable.”
Liam Boyce doubled Hearts’ advantage before heading the third after half-time. Peter Haring and Alex Cochrane finished off the scoring.
With a brother who plays for Neilston and a Grandfather who supported Benburb, Halliday is well-versed with junior football and the cutting comments you hear from crowds.
“It’s not a good thing for me,” he smiled. “It was all in good jest. It was a good laugh. I’ve got a lot of respect for junior football. For me, it’s the foundation of our game. It’s what we all love to see.
“Growing up, everyone knows what I was, but my grandad was a Benburb fan so we’d try and watch them as much as possible and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was good to get a taste of it today.
“For a number of years, in my opinion, the pyramid was pretty flawed. Since then we’ve seen a lot of teams progressing. You only haven to look at how well Kelty Hearts have done since they came into the senior leagues.
“I think it’s right that any junior team and those in the Lowlands or below now have the right to win promotion just like anyone else. Good luck to Auchinleck. We’ll probably see them in the Scottish league pretty soon.”
Auchinleck Talbot (4-4-1-1): Leishman; Stafford, McPherson, McCracken, A Wilson; Samson, Armstrong, Healy (Boyd 81), Glasgow; G Wilson (McDowall 68); Boylan (Mason 68).
Hearts (3-4-3): Gordon; Smith, Halkett, Kingsley; Atkinson, Devlin, Haring, Cochrane; McKay (Mackay-Steven 78), Boyce (Ginnelly 82), Halliday (McEneff 68).
Referee: Greg Aitken.