RYAN McGivern has expressed his relief that Hibernian managed to avoid all-out collapse against Celtic yesterday, in doing so warding off comparisons with last year’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Hearts.
However, despite a repeat dose of disappointment, the on-loan full-back still wants to be around next year, as Hibs make yet another attempt to cross the final hurdle in the Scottish Cup. Although McGivern was downhearted by the manner in which Hibs conceded two first-half goals, he was proud of his side’s resilience. Celtic scored twice in the first 30 minutes through Gary Hooper, but were able to add only one more goal in the second half, when Joe Ledley struck late on.
“Going 2-0 down to Celtic we could have let the heads drop and collapsed so it became five or six,” said McGivern, evoking memories of the 5-1 defeat to Hearts at the same stage last year. “So credit to the lads because we kept at it. I don’t think we were disgraced or embarrassed here.”
“The goals we lost were very sloppy, they shouldn’t have been conceded,” he added. “But I think we deserve credit for the way we kept playing and could have scored ourselves.”
McGivern didn’t accept that Hibs were content to simply pick up their losers’ medals yesterday, even if there was not quite the same level of despondency this time around.
“We’re very disappointed because when you get to a final you’re here to win,” he stressed. “We started really well but conceded two really sloppy goals. You can’t do that against the champions because it makes life so difficult for you. We had chances of our own and kept the ball well at times, but we just lost to the better side on the day.”
It might have been different had Eoin Doyle been able to direct his header past Fraser Forster in the opening minutes, when the game was still goalless. Leigh Griffiths also had a more difficult opportunity to score from an acute angle later in the half.
“We had a few chances earlier on but, against a team like Celtic, you’ve got to take them when they come along or you get punished,” said McGivern. “That’s what happened here. We started okay and created a few openings but we didn’t put the ball in the net.
“They hit us with two sucker punches after that and, when it’s against Celtic, you face an uphill task.
“I wouldn’t say it knocked the stuffing out of us because, even after the second goal, we kept trying to get the ball down. In the second half, we came out with nothing to lose and gave a decent account of ourselves. But the damage was done because of the two goals we lost in the first half.”
McGivern paid tribute to the supporters, who stayed on until the final minute to cheer on their team, and also remained to applaud the players long after the end. “We had a great support here, the fans have been terrific throughout the whole season,” he said. “It’s frustrating for them. Another year has gone by without Hibs winning the Scottish Cup.
“Towards the end, they were singing ‘we’ll support you evermore’ and that shows we put a shift in. It just wasn’t enough on the day.”
McGivern is doubly determined to make it up to the fans and, although the player is due to return to Manchester City in the summer, he has opened the way for Hibs to keep him after admitting that he would love to stay at Easter Road.
“We’d love to come back and win the cup for Hibs,” he said. “We’ve been here two years in a row and missed out, so that’s massively disappointing. But we’ll go again next year, try to get back to Hampden and see if we can go one better.
“The season has finished now, so I’d like to think I’ll get something sorted in the next couple of weeks. I want to put my feet up for a bit then make a decision.”