Hibs 'broke down barriers' with semi-final win against Rangers, says Jack Ross
Jack Ross hailed his team’s performance as Hibs booked their place in the Premier Sports Cup final next month with a blistering performance against Rangers at Hampden.
A first-half hat-trick from Martin Boyle had the Capital club 3-0 up after 38 minutes and although Scott Arfield reduced the deficit shortly before the interval, Hibs held out to ensure the Gers’ wait for a win against the Easter Road side at the national stadium goes on.
Admitting it had been a “tough few weeks” in terms of league form and the Covid-19 outbreak, Ross added: “We have been asked questions about big games but the truth is we keep coming back to big games.
“Winning the game was the big thing but the performance in all aspects of the game is best described as ‘enjoyable’.”
“The pace of the first half was ridiculous. We have spoken about being very good against Rangers but the results haven’t gone our way and key moments maybe went against us.
“Today, the first goal was maybe a bit fortuitous in the way it fell to Martin but it’s a big moment because it gives us momentum.
“The second half we had to be resilient, defend properly and put bodies on the line. We worked incredibly hard while not carrying as much of an attacking threat but we were outstanding in terms of wanting to defend our lead.”
The Hibs boss was effusive in his praise for Boyle, who took the match ball home after an unplayable first 45.
“For two years now he’s been great for me. He’s growing and growing and is now a top international player for Australia. He is such a threat and playing in that position against Rangers, he always causes them problems.
“He told me yesterday that Rangers are the only team he hadn’t scored against in his career, so he picked the right time – although I’m not sure I envisaged he’d score a first-half hat-trick – but for him it’s just another moment to cherish and look back on. Not many people score cup hat-tricks at Hampden.”
There was praise too for captain Paul Hanlon, who walked a disciplinary tightrope for the bulk of the game after a bookin inside the first 20 seconds.
“He has taken on the responsibility of the club captaincy this year and just keep improving his presence on and off the pitch.
"His performance after being booked was remarkable but when you work with him every day, you appreciate how good player he is.
“He is a really good footballer and he has an opportunity now to lift a trophy as captain, which for him would mean a huge amount. He was outstanding.”
Hibs now have a cup final against Celtic to look forward to but Ross believes his players can take heart from their last-four win against Rangers.
“You need to keep breaking down barriers and we’ve done that a little bit today,” he added.
“We’ve won semi-finals before here, but to do it against one of the big two means a lot and the players will grow from that.
“We’ve got a lot of league games first and we’ll have to repeat that kind of performance.
“But we’ll know we can handle the occasion even though the prize will be bigger.”