Hibs 3-0 Queen of the South: Championship title secured
Hibs were tonight back in the big time, taking the Championship title to win promotion to the top flight of Scottish football after a three year absence.
Lifelong Hibs fan Darren McGregor put the Easter Road side ahead with his first goal of the season and added a second before half-time, leaving skipper David Gray to wrap up the victory two minutes after the interval.
And with title rivals Falkirk being held to a draw at home by St Mirren, Hibs stretched their lead at the top of the table to 11 points which, with only three games left, put them in an uncatchable position. It may have taken longer than anyone would have wanted but Easter Road erupted, a mixture of both joy and relief on the final blast of referee Barry Cook's whistle.
There was an air of anticipation within Easter Road, a bumper crowd convinced this was to be the day Hibs returned to the Premiership following a three year absence and Neil Lennon's players responded, Martin Boyle driving forward to fire in an angled shot which Queens goalkeeper Lee Robinson beat away at his near post.
News of an early goal for St Mirren certainly helped the mood of the home fans but Dom Thomas served warning that Queens would be happy to spoil the party, Dom Thomas drilling a long range shot just wide.
Hibs took notice and were ahead in the 13th minute, McGregor rising high above everyone at the back post to meet John McGinn's free-kick and although the angle looked against him he sent a magnificent header back across Robinson and into the net.
However, the Dumfries club almost hauled themselves level, Lyndon Dykes' shot going through a forest of bodies to fall for former Hibs striker Stephen Dobbie who saw his effort brilliantly stopped by goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.
It was Hibs, though, who continued to dominate and Robinson had to get his fingertips to a piledriver from Boyle, turning the ball away for a corner which led to a second goal for the Capital club. And again the goal hero was McGregor, the big defender flicking home Jason Cummings' cross.
Cummings almost made it three two minutes after the restart, meeting Fraser Fyvie's ball over the top on the volley only to see Robinson pull off a terrific save. But once again it counted for little. This time it was Gray at the back post to meet Cummings corner, heading the ball down and in for his second goal of the season, both of them having come against Queens.
Hibs were beginning to enjoy themselves and a wonderful bit of play from McGinn saw him play in Dylan McGeouch who had his shot saved by the increasingly over-worked Robinson.
But the Hibs fans were cheering again as news that St Mirren had gone ahead for a second time against Falkirk filtered through, the goal scored by Stephen McGinn, the older brother of Easter Road's John.
A good run by Alex Harris, cutting the ball back for his fellow substitute James Keatings could have brought a fourth goal for Hibs but the striker put it over the bar.
Hibs: Marciano, Gray, McGregor, Ambrose, Stevenson, Fyvie, McGeouch, McGinn, Shinnie (Harris 66), Boyle (Keatings 75), Cummings.
Substitutes not used: Laidlaw, Bartley, Holt, Forster, Graham.
Queen of the South: Robinson, Jacobs, Higgins, Brownlie, Marshall, Carmichael (McManus 57), Thomson, Rankin, Thomas (Murray 57), Dykes (Hilson 73), Dobbie.
Substitutes not used: Leighfield, Dowie, Mercer, Bell.
Referee: Barry Cook