Exclusive Hibs interview: Jacob and Oscar MacIntyre speak on new deals, first-team hopes, and Josh Doig inspiration
We are sitting in one of the Academy changing rooms at the Hibernian Training Centre, a familiar place to both Jacob and Oscar MacIntyre in recent years.
Jacob, 16, has been at the club for the last seven years – ‘since I was nine’ – and 18-year-old Oscar for the last three. The brothers have just signed new deals, keeping them at the club until 2025 and 2026 respectively and if the pair maintain their performances in training, for the development squad, and under-18s in Jacob’s case, it shouldn’t be too long before they both find themselves spending more time in the first-team dressing room.
Oscar made his first-team debut in the final game of last season, playing the final 13 minutes of the 4-0 victory over St Johnstone, before impressing in the second half of the pre-season friendly against Norwich City. He earned praise from manager Lee Johnson for the way he had handled Cuban international and seasoned English Premier League performer Onel Hernandez.
"I thought Oscar was outstanding. I’ve seen Hernandez terrorise Championship full-backs and wingbacks, so I think Oscar can go home and be extremely pleased with his performance,” Johnson said after the game.
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Speak to anyone at HTC and you receive glowing reports about both MacIntyres; not just their footballing ability but their approach to the non-football side of life too.
“Whenever they play development team or under-18 football – which Jacob can still do – they always shine. They’re two fabulous lads,” Academy chief Steve Kean enthused. Darren McGregor, who has played alongside both players in the development squad, has been similarly impressed.
Even those who occupy more of an upstairs role at the club haven’t failed to notice the pair’s potential.
The brothers were regulars in the title-winning under-18 side last season, Oscar at left-wingback while Jacob, ostensibly a midfielder, made the right-wingback berth his own when he was still aged just 15. He’s also captained Scotland at under-16 level and, like his brother, speaks with a maturity far beyond his years.
There is a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the pair, a competitive streak that spurs both on to be the best they can. They are where they are thanks to the hours of dedication and hard work they have put in, but both are aware that the extended deals are a two-way thing.
“I think the club can see a path in our development, and we can see a pathway to the first team” Oscar says, as he reflects on the new contracts.
"The club has a lot of trust in us as well, that we can stay here for longer and make our way into the first team,” Jacob adds.
Along with Oscar, other academy youngsters to have made their debut in the last couple of months include Murray Aiken, Jacob Blaney, Robbie Hamilton, and Josh O’Connor while goalkeeper Murray Johnson is also a regular fixture with the senior squad.
Ethan Laidlaw is another youngster who has been involved with the first team but many of the under-18s and development-squad personnel have participated in training with Lee Johnson and his staff. Rudi Molotnikov, who has also been capped by Scotland at under-16 level and appeared for the Hibs 18s last season, has also been called up to first-team training.
Simply put, there are a lot of youngsters at Hibs competing for an opportunity with the seniors so the MacIntyres are seizing every opportunity that can keep them in the mix.
"When you see the other young guys getting a chance in the first team it drives you to want to do the same, and that’s what all of us are trying to do right now. Things like this push us on,” Jacob continues.
The meteoric rise of Josh Doig from academy to first-team regular to Serie A is firmly on the pair’s radar too, and not just because the Hellas Verona defender and Oscar share a position.
“It’s a big inspiration seeing how well people like Josh have done, and I think it shows us what the club can do for us if we work hard,” Oscar suggests.
Jacob is in full agreement.
"It’s good having someone like Josh to look up to because we know what our own goals are in terms of trying to push on and do the same things that he’s doing now and that he did at Hibs,” he adds.
There are plenty of tales in the footballing sphere of youngsters getting a hard time from grizzled old pros but the MacIntyres’ experience has been vastly different.
"I feel like every single player has your back, which gives you confidence to play and obviously helps you progress,” Jacob says.
"I think the coaches have trust in us now. The club giving us these deals tells us that they’re confident we’re able to kick on."
Oscar has spent more time around the first-team squad and has experienced similar.
“It’s all about the wee tips and advice to aid our development, to help us be better players. Every single player has something to share that can help you improve."
The performance of many of Hibs’ youngsters has not gone unnoticed. Striker Connor Young, a former team-mate of both MacIntyres, recently joined Rangers after the Ibrox side spent months watching him in action for the under-18s while Johnson and Laidlaw have spent time training with English Premier League sides.
There has reportedly been interest in the MacIntyres from north and south of the Border, but both are fully focused on honing their talents in green and white.
“We’re just concentrating on Hibs, striving to be the best we can, and getting in the first team,” Jacob says, as Oscar nods in agreement.
Very different personalities, but aligned on the issues that matter most. With both brothers having their feet firmly on the ground, it can only be a good thing – for them and for Hibs.