There’s no denying that this past week has been an unforgettable period in the career of Hibs’ young talisman John McGinn, even if he’ll be forced to look back on it with bittersweet memories.
Just a few days after experiencing the highest of the highs after being picked to potentially represent his country for the first time, the midfielder was brought crashing back down to earth when his side lost yesterday’s League Cup final to Ross County.
Had the Hibs support been looking for a good omen before the game, they needn’t have looked much further than the fan’s favourite in the centre of midfield. McGinn was playing in his second League Cup showdown having helped St Mirren defeat Hibs’ local rivals Hearts in the final of the 2012/13 competition.
The similarities continued into the game as McGinn’s side lost an earlier goal, only to equalise a short time before the half. Unfortunately for McGinn and his Easter Road team-mates, that’s where the similarities ended.
Alex Schalk’s 90th minute winner snatched away any prospect of Hibs winning the finely poised contest in extra-time or penalties and brought in a feeling of crushing disappointment for McGinn.
“To lose a final like that, I’m gobsmacked, gutted. It’s the first time I’ve lost a final and it’s not nice,” said McGinn.
“We came here for one thing – to lift the trophy, and it’s not happened. Everything else is irrelevant.
“The best team on the day doesn’t always win a cup final. Anything can happen in these games. I’m not saying Ross County didn’t deserve it – they got two goals and we didn’t. But I think they got one or two breaks of the ball that we didn’t get.”
For Hibs, and McGinn especially with the Scotland game coming up on 29 March, it’s a case of picking themselves up and ensuring this season ends on a positive note as they bid to achieve promotion back to the Ladbrokes Premiership. There’s also the little matter of a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay with Inverness this coming Wednesday and the opportunity to avenge yesterday’s Hampden letdown.
“I’ve still got Scotland to look forward to but this was really, really disappointing. You go from being high as a kite to getting knocked right to the floor. It’s something that I need to deal with and I’ll learn from it,” said McGinn.
“There are a lot of disappointed boys in the dressing-room but we need to pick ourselves up quick because we know we’ve still got a lot to play for. We can’t let it affect us too much. That’s what the gaffer said and that’s what we’ve got to do.
“That’s the first time I’ve lost here and I don’t want it to happen again. I came here for a winner’s medal, so to go away with a runners-up medal leaves a sour taste. I just want to go home, get it out the way, get a victory on Wednesday and get back here at the end of the season.”
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