EVEN many minutes after he struck his sensational winner, Hibs striker and man of the match Leigh Griffiths could not formulate the words to describe his feelings.
“I can’t sum up how I felt when that winner went in,” said Griffiths. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet. We were abysmal in the first half and the gaffer gave us a right rollicking. We came out in the second half and showed determination, grit and courage to come back and win the game.
“Thankfully, when Eoin Doyle’s goal went in, I knew there was still seven minutes to go and I felt we had a great chance to go and win the game.
“Once it went to extra time we felt if we kept going, grinding them down then we’d get the win and thankfully I got the goal with a couple of minutes to go.”
Griffiths summed up Hibs’ never-say-die attitude, especially as he himself had to come back from missing a penalty: “It was probably one of the worst I’ve ever hit, I just couldn’t get any whip on it – but I didn’t let my head drop because I knew I would get more chances. The goalkeeper made a wonder save from Eoin Doyle’s follow-up from my penalty – but thankfully he got nowhere near Doyle’s next effort!”
Griffiths revealed the turmoil in the dressing room at half-time.
“The manager went through us at half-time and I have to be honest and say a few boys were close to throwing punches.
“It wasn’t even just the manager who was angry. It was [coach] Liam O’Brien and [midfielder] Kevin Thomson was going off his head. Everyone voiced their opinion, although I won’t divulge what was said.
“There’s no way the dressing room was going to be silent after that first-half performance and you saw the reaction in the second half so it must have worked.
“Thankfully we got the goal early in the second half through Alex Harris – who was excellent – and we kicked on from there.”
Griffiths revealed that his superbly struck winner was a rare event: “I tried to score in training about ten or 15 times from the same position as I scored my winner and not one went into the back of the net so, thankfully, it sailed in when it mattered most.
“It’s up there with one of my most important goals, especially with two minutes to go.”
For Eoin Doyle, who has agreed to join Chesterfield Town in England’s Football League Two, the win over Falkirk gives him the chance of an unprecedented fifth national cup final in a row in two different countries – three in Ireland with Sligo Rovers and now a second Scottish Cup final with Hibs.
“I was in three consecutive cup finals in Ireland and I won the last two with Sligo,” said Doyle, who pledged that his forthcoming move to join his former manager Paul Cook at Chesterfield would not affect his commitment to Hibs.
He said: “I love this club and everything about it and I said to the gaffer at the time that I would give 100 per cent commitment and I haven’t let him down so far. He knows my character and he has been great with me about it.”
He had kind words for brave opponents Falkirk: “You just feel sorry for the lads out there. They put in everything, worked so hard, they came at us and frightened us a bit I suppose, and we conceded those three goals and it could have been more. We were lucky that we were going in 3-0 down at half-time, and I am just grateful that we managed to pull it back.”
Lyle Taylor missed a sitter to put Falkirk really out of sight, as he conceded: “It was a chance I should have put away, but it didn’t happen today.
“Everybody is absolutely run into the ground, and we are all really disappointed.
“It was a great game for the spectator, but it’s a massive opportunity lost for us.”