Hibs need no more incentives to win a trophy that has eluded their grasp for well over a century but manager Pat Fenlon knows that victory in the Scottish Cup final on 26 May would afford them a later entry into Europe.
Beat Celtic at Hampden and they get a few more weeks to prepare for their Europa League qualifiers; lose and they can expect an early journey into the unknown and Fenlon, pictured, can steel himself for a summer of frantic transfer action as he tries to get any new faces in sooner rather than later.
“It is a short window because of Europe, because you are desperate to have as close to your completed squad as possible going into your first competitive game, which will be in Europe. That is why we are actively trying to do things at the moment. We have some decent players under contract at the moment and some players within the group who are out of contract that we would like to keep. We have signed Liam [Craig] and there are others we would like to bring in. Another plus is that we have added a couple of boys from the academy who have come in and shown up well.
“It is important we take the competition really seriously. Look at a couple of years ago – Shamrock Rovers got to the group stage and it can change the outlook at a club. They got some tough draws but got the luck required to reach the group stage and there is some serious revenue to be made which would be a real help.
“Celtic have done well and improved the co-efficient. If a few others can chip in then it will help us progress and help get the bigger games on a more regular basis.
“I have been in Europe a lot as a manager. It is something I enjoy because it is completely different to your week-in, week-out, bread and butter football. It is a learning curve for players, coaches and managers going up against something different over two legs.
“I managed to dodge the trips to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, but had a couple of tricky ties in Iceland. The conditions were never great and it was always a surreal atmosphere. But to fair we had some cracking trips around Europe. [At Shelbourne, in 2004] we knocked KR Reykjavic out in the first round then won against Hadjuk Split and ended up playing Deportivo at home, who had been in the semi-final of the Champions League the previous season. That was, as a manager, the best things have been for me.”
They drew 0-0 in front of 24,000 at Lansdowne Road before losing out in Spain but it undoubtedly whetted his appetite and made sure than any summer scramble for signings will be considered worth it.