Barrie McKay opens up on first Hearts goal and whether it was better than Rangers v Celtic cracker

It has taken him 30 appearances, but Barrie McKay finally has his first goal in a Hearts shirt.

Not that McKay hasn’t been contributing for the Tynecastle club in an attacking sense – he has eight league assists and is one of the main reasons why Hearts are miles clear in third place – but not troubling the scoresheet has been a laughing matter for his team-mates, who have ribbed him for not breaking his duck.

He shut them up in emphatic style, scoring one of the best goals of Hearts’ season on 58 minutes during the Jambos’ 2-0 win over Livingston on Saturday.

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Keeping a close eye on Nathaniel Atkinson’s cross from the right, the 27-year-old forward met the ball so sweetly on the volley, finding the far corner of the net. The celebrations were exuberant.

Hearts' Barrie McKay (R) celebrates making it 2-0 against Livingston with his team-mate Peter Haring.Hearts' Barrie McKay (R) celebrates making it 2-0 against Livingston with his team-mate Peter Haring.
Hearts' Barrie McKay (R) celebrates making it 2-0 against Livingston with his team-mate Peter Haring.

“It’s about time,” McKay said of his goal. “The chances I’ve missed during the season were probably easier than that one. It’s been a bit of a running joke between the boys in the changing room but I’m glad to get my first goal.

“You miss chances but at least I’m in the position to get those chances. I’m still influencing the game with assists and creating chances so I put it to the back of my mind. I knew it would come eventually."

McKay’s strike added to Beni Baningime’s third-minute opener, the defensive midfielder’s second goal in as many games. He has been one of the team-mates quick to remind McKay of his goal-tally.

“It was a running joke when sitting midfielders were scoring before me,” McKay continued. “I’m close with Beni so I had it all week and then on Saturday when he scored again. That was him on two and I was on zero so I had to bring one back.

“I just tried to make a good connection with it, really. If you try to hit those ones too hard, it will blaze over or hit off a defender. It was just about making good contact and thankfully it went in. I was waiting for it to hit the back of the net so I could celebrate.”

McKay is no stranger to the odd wonder-goal. He scored a howitzer past his current team-mate Craig Gordon in 2016 when Rangers overcame Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final and he admitted that strike still tops his charts.

“It’s up there,” McKay said of the goal against Livi. “When they fly in the back of the net, they are the ones everybody talks about. I think the semi-final one is probably better because I can have a joke with Craigy [Gordon] about it!”

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McKay has the appearance of a man enjoying his football right now. Hearts are a whopping 14 points clear in third place and have a Scottish Cup last-four tie against Hibs to look forward to. This season has the potential to be a big one for those in maroon, and with a two-week international break coming up, McKay is planning for a bit of rest before two derbies in a week in April.

“The break comes now, we get a few days off and then we’re right back at it,” added McKay. “We just want to finish the season as strongly as we can with as many wins as we can. That will be the focus.

“The Ross County game is first so we go into that with full focus. The derby games always take care of themselves and they will be ones we are looking forward to.”

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