James Keatings admits Hibernian’s play-off semi-final defeat to Falkirk kept him up until 4am the following morning and left him dazed with disappointment.
The 24-year-old forward scored twice in the second leg at the Falkirk Stadium last Friday night but Alan Stubbs’ side could not shake off the battling Bairns to continue their push towards the Ladbrokes Premiership.
With the game level at 2-2 and destined for extra-time, Bob McHugh scored a dramatic last-gasp winner to take Peter Houston’s troops through to the final against Kilmarnock after winning 5-4 on aggregate.
Keatings, like the rest of the Easter Road squad, has had to quickly regain focus ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Rangers at Hampden Park on Saturday.
However, the former Hamilton and Hearts forward admits the aftermath of the Falkirk defeat took some getting over.
He said: “It hurt a lot. It is probably the worst I have ever felt in my career so far.
“I sat up until four in the morning in a daze, thinking over the game, going through it in my head and thinking through the season as well.
“I was sitting there basically not doing anything, watching television.
“Obviously a lot of hard work has been put in throughout the season and just to fall short is a hard one to take.
“But we came in on Monday and started to prepare for the cup final and that is the main focus now.
“That is what the manager has been stressing on us. It a massive game and we want to go and give the fans and the people at this club something to celebrate.”
The Ibrox club, conversely, go into the match on a high after winning the Ladbrokes Championship to return to the top flight after a four-year absence. Their Hampden final place was clinched with a penalty shoot-out win over old rivals Celtic in the semi-final.
Keatings, however, takes confidence from their previous meetings with Gers this season.
The Light Blues started the season with a Challenge Cup win at Easter Road but Hibs beat Rangers twice in their four league meetings.
Keatings said: “We know how to play against them. We are both good teams but we showed that we are capable of beating them.
“I am sure on Saturday it will be an even game. It is about who steps up and takes their chances on the day and there will be chances.
“I am fully confident in this dressing room and the manager and the backroom staff who are behind us. We can do it on Saturday.”
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