John McGinn’s overwhelming memory of winning the 2013 League Cup was the huge wave of relief that washed over him at the final whistle.
Asked to pick out a stand-out moment from the mental treasure trove, the former St Mirren midfielder body swerved the build up, the trophy presentation, bus top tour and extended celebrations. Instead, it is the emotions of the final few minutes of the match that are etched most clearly on the Hibs player’s brain.
Substituted in the 81st minute, with the Paisley side 3-1 ahead, he had to endure the final nine minutes of regulation time and another four minutes of time added on from the bench. During what he described as a torturous spell and one which seemed to stretch out longer than the majority of the match he had spent on the park, Hearts pulled a goal back and pressed hard for an equaliser to keep themselves in it.
“My favourite memory is the final whistle! I had been subbed with about 15 minutes to go, Hearts scored and I could hardly watch. I was just relieved. It was relief that after all the build up we’d won,” said the 21-year-old.
“When you are on the pitch you have a job to do. You are focused, you do not worry what’s surrounding you, but when you are at the side it’s not so easy worrying that it could be taken away from you.”
The jubilation that followed has long since blurred and he missed out on much of the protracted partying, fulfilling his commitment to the national U-19 team and heading to meet up with the squad, the day after the open top bus tour.
“Believe it or not, the next day I was in Irvine meeting up with Scotland Under-19s, so I don’t have as good memories as the other boys but it shows what a lift it can give a club or a city – you can imagine scenes in Edinburgh similar to that.
“I remember at the time a lot of the old guard were telling me that it should make me hungry to go and get more medals and it certainly has. The feeling I got when we went through in the quarter-final, hopefully we can do something similar on Saturday.”
The debate over who goes into today’s League Cup semi-final as favourites has raged between Hibs and St Johnstone, but what they have agreed is that nothing can be taken for granted and both are determined to progress beyond this afternoon’s Tynecastle meeting. But while Tommy Wright’s men have a superior league standing on their side, the 2014 Scottish Cup winners will know that Hibernian have already slayed top flight opposition, including Aberdeen, en route to this head to head.
“We took a lot from that game – a lot of confidence. Our game plan worked very well. Aberdeen came on a great run of form and we managed to beat them but Saturday is a semi-final, there’s a lot more at stake and anything can happen. We just have to make sure we are ready.”