Less than an hour later, Cummings again looked enviously upon a beaming Schalk at the other end of the post-match press area, trying to put his emotions into words after such a disappointment.
Unfortunately for the 20-year-old, this kind of gut-wrenching feeling is one he’s had to become accustomed to in his short career.
At the end of his debut season at Easter Road, his penalty was the decisive miss that won promotion for Hamilton Accies at the expense of Hibs’ relegation in the play-off final. The following season also ended in disappointment after losing a Scottish Cup semi-final to Falkirk despite dominating the game, and then falling to Rangers in the play-off semi-finals, ensuring another year in the Championship.
After the Hamilton loss, Cummings was in tears as he exited the field. While he kept his composure on this occasion, Cummings admitted this latest heartache was a pain that rivalled anything he’s experienced before in the game.
“I just don’t think it was our day and that’s what can happen in cup finals. One team wins and one team loses,” said Cummings.
“I don’t think we were the poorer team today but it just wasn’t our day. I’m just devastated. It’s probably the worst I have felt after a game in my life.
“I thought we had more chances and I felt we were the better team – just edged it. You can’t take anything away from Ross County. They dug in and it fell to them at the end. They got a break and we didn’t. We’ve got to look at the positives. If we didn’t look at the positives then I would end up jumping off a bridge – I’m that gutted. I can’t express how bad it is.”
Luckily for Cummings, and Hibs, bouncing back is in the striker’s nature. In the build up to the game, Cummings insisted that his release from boyhood heroes Hearts as a youngster made him a better player. Hibs need to adopt a similar sort of mindset now as they enter a stretch of games that will be pivotal, not just for this season, but for the club as a whole. Right from the top down at Easter Road, they’ve insisted the sole objective of this campaign has been to get back to the Premiership. The thought of another season in the second tier is something not worth contemplating.
There’s also the little matter of the Scottish Cup. Yesterday’s match represents the first time this season that Hibs have lost to a top-flight opponent, and they’ll therefore fancy their chances of getting to the semi-finals despite a difficult trip to Inverness on Wednesday.
“It’s going to take a while to get over it, but we have to shake it off because we have big games coming up. We have to shake it off quick,” admitted Cummings.
“It’s a massive test for us because it’s a Scottish Cup quarter-final on Wednesday. But the cups were just a bonus anyway. We want to get promoted – that’s the main thing for us.”