Daryl Horgan has revealed there was no escaping Hibs’ disappointing defeat by Livingston even while he was away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.
As Martin O’Neill’s squad prepared for their opening UEFA Nations League match with Wales and the friendly against Poland which followed, Horgan found himself quizzed by his team-mates as to what exactly had gone wrong at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
“You don’t get away from it,” admitted the 26-year-old. “It’s always at the back of your mind that you are going to have to come back and put that result right. The boys were asking; they always take an interest in Scottish results as I did, and they saw that one as something of an upset.”
After draws with St Johnstone and Aberdeen, the loss to Livingston left Neil Lennon’s players sixth in the Premiership table, trailing leaders and Capital rivals Hearts by seven points after only four matches played.
It is a scenario everyone at Easter Road is determined to address – starting with tomorrow’s visit from Kilmarnock, who caused almost as big a surprise last season as Hibs themselves as they hauled themselves from bottom spot to fifth place under new head coach Steve Clarke.
Horgan said: “We know we can’t afford to play like we did against Livingston or we will be turned over. We have to do much better and if we can play as well as we can, then we’ll be confident.
“Kilmarnock are a good side, they had a good season last year and have started well again. They’ve got a few Irish boys in their team who, although I don’t know them personally, I know of, so I know we have to be right at it.
“I think the St Johnstone and Aberdeen games were different in the sense we played well in them and you could say something was coming in each of them although they just didn’t go our way and we were frustrated we didn’t take the opportunities we had. But against Livingston we just didn’t do enough and didn’t deserve anything.
“The performance and result were massively disappointing.”
Horgan’s experience with Ireland proved to be a bitter-sweet affair, the Irish blown away by Wales in Cardiff before being denied a victory against Poland in Wroclaw a few days later by Mateusz Klich’s equaliser.
He said: “Wales played well and we didn’t, so that perhaps made them look even better. However, we just never got going, they were the better team on the night and we just had to take our medicine. It was a tough one to take.
“Poland, on the other hand, was one of our best performances in a stretch. We looked comfortable but the result unfortunately slipped by us when they got a late goal. But it was a performance we needed.”
Horgan stepped off the bench to face Wales for his first competitive appearance for Ireland last week. He had made no secret of his desire to cement his place in the Republic squad and it was one reason for his move from Preston North End to Easter Road on a three-year deal, insisting that making consecutive appearances as a substitute over the course of the past week was something to savour although he is determined to become a first-choice pick.
He said: “We had a few injuries, so I was called up and was lucky enough to play my first competitive game which is something I’ll always look back on fondly.”
As his long-awaited chance to “come over the water” to join Preston turned sour, Horgan was advised by O’Neill that to realise his international aspirations he would have to be playing more regularly, and that opportunity, he believes, has been offered in Edinburgh.
He said: “I’d taken my time to get over here.
“Unfortunately I’d never had that chance earlier, there had been a couple of things but they always seemed to break down at the last minute or something would change.
“I was still playing football at a good level and had the chance to play in the Europa League [with Dundalk] which a lot of boys haven’t had. I had the chance to grow up closer to home, finish school, go to college.
“But when that opportunity came after our European run I had to take it, it might never have arisen again and I was at that stage in my life when I had to make a move.
“It started well at Preston but then it didn’t work out but now I am hoping to make the most of the time I have here.
“I had spoken to Martin O’Neill in the summer about moving and so on. Hibs came in and thankfully stuck around because it took a bit of time to be done.”