Three Hibs-related observations from Saturday lunchtime's match against Hearts ...
We have to start with the derby hero. Daryl Horgan, take a bow. It is incredibly rare for a Hibs player to score two goals in one game against Hearts at Tynecastle. Horgan did just that. His first goal was a calm finish after neat work from Marc McNulty, but the second was a glorious bullet of a finish that left Zdenek Zlamal with no chance. Sometimes the Irishman's end product can be lacking, but in this match he was clinical when the chances arose. The winger was also willing to track back and help his defence. It was a display that will go down in the derby annals for Hibs.
Hang your hat on Hanlon (and McGregor)
So much was made before the game of Uche Ikpeazu and how Hibs would deal with him. The striker is a wrecking ball, an anomaly in the Scottish game. He is a nightmare to defend against. Ikpeazu played pretty well as Hearts put most attacks through him. However, he was snuffed out by Darren McGregor and, in particular, Paul Hanlon. Ikpeazu and McGregor had a ding-dong physical battle, so much so that the English striker moved to his' right to try and pick on Hanlon. The left-sided centre-half - who in his younger years was often bullied by strikers such as Kevin Kyle at Tynecastle - was a colossus. He refused to be overpowered by Ikpeazu and, aside from that, made a plethora of blocks and interventions to protect his goal. In a match when Hearts put Hibs under a lot pressure, Hanlon stood up to challenge impressively.
Momentum is with Hibs
Hibs have now taken 20 points out of 24 under Paul Heckingbottom in the Ladbrokes Premiership. They have moved from eighth place in the league up to fifth. They are now ahead of Hearts. European football is becoming a real possibility. Hibs have got five tricky matches to finish off the campaign, but the players are confident and the fans are buoyant. The rise under Heckingbottom has been so stark that it's not inconceivable that they will screech past Aberdeen and Kilmarnock in the Europa League race. More progress is probably needed, but the Yorkshireman is getting so much out of his team right now. And, crucially, momentum is with them. A fascinating post-split set of fixtures await ...