HIBERNIAN striker Eoin Doyle believes the frantic finale to Wednesday’s pulsating 2-2 draw against Kilmarnock has set the scene perfectly for the two sides’ William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final at Rugby Park on Sunday.
The teams traded three goals in as many minutes as Hibs snatched a point at the death, having twice been trailing to Kenny Shiels’ side.
“The last ten minutes were very eventful,” said Doyle. “If we can play on Sunday with the kind of intensity we did at the end of Wednesday’s match I’m sure we can nick a result. It’s a massive game and we’re all very much looking forward to it.”
Kilmarnock had taken the lead through Sammy Clingan in the 46th minute but Ryan McGivern equalised for Hibs with five minutes left. Within a minute, however, Pat Fenlon’s side had fallen behind again to a goal from Jude Winchester, only for Leigh Griffiths to round off a breathless end to the game with his 19th SPL goal of the season.
Despite their late fightback, Doyle doesn’t think Hibs have a psychological edge going into the clash with Kilmarnock, who elected to leave Kris Boyd on the bench on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t say we were on a high or anything like that,” said Doyle. “After we scored the first equaliser we got the ball out of their net quickly to try to get the winner but they hit us again.We have a point to prove going into Sunday and we need to put in a more intense performance throughout the whole game.”
Doyle knows how important the Scottish Cup is to Hibs fans and, despite its calamitous conclusion last season in a 5-1 final defeat to rivals Hearts, he felt the competition gave the club a much needed incentive.
“The cup definitely helped us keep going in the league and it kept the fans coming through the gates as well,” said Doyle. “We were in a bad place in the league and, if we’d gone out of the cup, it would not have been good for the club. The final kept things alive right until the end of the season and gave us a glimmer of hope. This season has been better and it would be nice to reach the final again.”
In their cup run last season, Hibs defeated Kilmarnock 1-0 in the fifth round, with Doyle notching the only goal of the game. The 24-year-old said: “I had just signed and it was one of my first starts for the club. It was a bit of a jammy goal to be honest. It took a couple of deflections towards me and then a couple more on the way in but I wasn’t complaining at the time. That game holds happy memories for me and it would be nice to score again against them in the cup. It was great to get through and it was part of a good run in the cup as well, albeit the final didn’t really make it worthwhile.”
When looking back on their Hampden humiliation, Doyle added: “I’d rather be knocked out in the first round than have to go through all that again. It was tough for everyone and definitely still hurts. It’s always there in the back of your mind, especially when you go into the cup games and you see the draw, you want to be one of the last two balls left in the hat.”
Having been involved in the cup final heartbreak, Doyle is keen to make it to that stage again and heal the pain caused last May.
“It would be great to be part of a team here that turns it around and brings the trophy home. Last year we had an easier run to the final, playing Cowdenbeath and Ayr United. This year we are having to do it the hard way as we’re playing good teams [Hibs have beaten Hearts and Aberdeen in previous rounds].
“It’s been a tougher few rounds this time but I’m confident we can go and get a good result on Sunday and put in a great performance as well. There’s a bit more hunger this season and I think the players want to fight more for the cause and each other. We dug in and managed to get the result on Wednesday. Unfortunately, not all three points but we’re looking forward to Sunday now.”