As the Easter Road wrapped up an whirlwind end to transfer deadline day, the clubs had an anxious wait to see if enough of the relevant paperwork had been lodged before the window closed at midnight. But were informed that they had fallen just shy.
HIbs manager Jack Ross had made it clear that he was looking for another attack-minded player capable of weighing in with goals. The club had recently recruited James Scott and were happy to hold onto Scotland and Australia internationalists Kevin Nisbet and Marton Boyle but the long-term injury to Christian Doidge, who could be absent until December, and the inability to accelerate USA international Chris Mueller’s arrival in Scotland beyond the new year, heightened the desire to strengthen further.
McGrath is a player who knows how to find the net and scored 17 goals from midfield for St Mirren last season.
That form was enough to see him included in Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad and attract the attention of clubs in England, as well as Hibs.
The capital side attempted to sweeten the cash deal by including Allan and Wright in the late-night transaction but with McGrath abroad on Ireland duty and two further players involved, the hurdles proved too many to overcome as the clock ticked down.
Earlier, Hibs had completed the season-long loan switch of central defender Nathan Wood from Middlesbrough.
That was followed by the formal arrival of 31-year-old former Clyde goalkeeper David Mitchell on a deal until 2023.
And, then Raith Rovers teenager completed a late-night medical and signed a deal. Seen as a player for the future, he will now be loaned back to the Kirkcaldy club until at least January.
There was still a strong desire to get a ready-made goalscoring option over the line and to bolster competition in the frontline. Working right up to the wire, the clubs hoped they had pulled it off but they came up short.