Neil Lennon has branded Hearts “irrelevant”, insisting Hibs are looking at the teams ahead of them in the Premiership table after their 2-0 derby win opened up a 12-point gap between the Capital clubs.
Second-half goals from Scott Allan and Jamie Maclaren gave Hibs their fifth straight win at Easter Road over the Jambos with – claimed Lennon – an outstanding performance, the win pushing his side to within a point of third-placed Aberdeen.
And Lennon admitted the “restoring the natural order of things” jibe made by Hearts boss Craig Levein after a Scottish Cup win at Tynecastle in January had ended Hibs’ run of nine derbies without defeat had come back to haunt his Gorgie counterpart.
The Hibs boss said: “They are irrelevant to us now. We are looking up the table rather than what’s behind us. I don’t want to give soundbites and get into another verbal spat. These statements always come back to haunt you and they’ve come back to haunt them after four or five weeks. We are delighted we have inched closer to the boys above us and opened up a huge gap on them.” Lennon hailed his midfield trio of Allan, Dylan McGeouch and John McGinn, describing McGeouch as “sublime” and McGinn as “awesome”, adding: “Second half, I thought John was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, just brilliant.
“Again, it was the sum of all parts, the strikers were good, back three were strong and Martin Boyle was a real threat all night. We could have won by more, so we have handled the psychology of a big game again very well.
“We have the bragging rights back, for how long who knows but the gap is huge now between us and them and the gap on the pitch is huge as well.
“We know Aberdeen are away on Saturday so the gap is a point. There are no easy games between now and the end of the season – Rangers and Celtic, anything can happen there. I am just glad we are maintaining the good form we have been showing. We have beaten good teams, Rangers Aberdeen, Hearts and drawn with Kilmarnock, a very good run of form.”
Allan was delighted with his first goal since returning to Hibs on loan from Celtic, the midfielder saying: “Overall, I thought we controlled the game, had the best chances. They were a massive three points for us and we stay on the tail of Aberdeen.
“It was good to be on the scoresheet in such a big game. We wanted to keep up the good run we have been on and on our own patch I think we more than showed that.
“First half was tighter but second half we showed our quality, scored two good goals and might have had more but it was a more than deserved three points.”
Scotland boss Alex McLeish was in the stand watching ahead of naming his first squad on Monday but Allan insisted: “I am just taking my time here on loan at Hibs to do well – that’s my main concern.”