John McGinn: Getting Hibs back to Premiership was a '˜relief'

Hibernian midfielder John McGinn has revealed that it was relief which flooded over he and his team-mates after winning the Championship title '“ rather than the absolute joy they experienced at ending the club's 114-year drought in the Scottish Cup by beating Rangers in last year's final.

Hibernian midfielder John McGinn and his brother Stephen of St Mirren in action. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Clinching automatic promotion ended the three-year exile from the Premiership and meant they avoided the play-off procedure which proved to be the downfall for Terry Butcher’s side in 2014.

However, securing pole position was not the end of the anxiety for McGinn, who could have condemned older brother Stephen to the relegation play-offs if Hibs had beaten St Mirren at Easter Road on Saturday.

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“It’s been a crazy two years,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t think for a minute I would be involved in such celebrations.

“Winning the Championship Player of the Year award at the PFA dinner on Sunday night topped it off for me – it’s been a good season and I’m just delighted to have been part of the team that has taken Hibs back up.

“Last year in the cup final it was unbelievable but Saturday was more like relief because, when you are at a club like Hibs, you have to be a bit reserved when you come out of the second tier because we shouldn’t be there in the first place. We need to build on this and get the club back to where it belongs in the top half [of the Premiership].

“The manager said we’re the second-best team in Scotland and it’s nice that he thinks that of us. We’re aware of how good the teams in the top flight are but I think we’ve proved in the cup competitions that we can hold our own against them.

“So the manager has every right to say that but we have to go and prove that we are good enough.”

The 1-1 draw with St Mirren meant that the Paisley outfit avoided the play-offs at the other end of the table and McGinn was content with that outcome.

“I was looking forward to the game but it was also one I was dreading because there was the possibility that we could put my brother in a precarious position.

“We were going at it hammer and tongs to give our supporters the best day we could but we only managed to get a draw.

“It was strange because you need to be professional. It wasn’t my fault that St Mirren were in that position; it was theirs. It wasn’t a case of going easy on Stephen. I was trying my best but they’re a good team now and they deserved their point.

“The manager asked me on the Friday if I was mentally prepared to play and I was. It would’ve been a completely different scenario if it was to put them automatically down. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to cope with that.”

While the bulk of his team-mates will be looking out the Ambre Solaire, McGinn’s campaign will have 31 days still to go should he be named by Gordon Strachan in the Scotland squad for next month’s World Cup qualifier against England at Hampden.

“I’ve had this on the back of my mind and I have been talking to the sports science staff at Hibs,” he said. “I just need to be professional and keep myself ticking over so that, if the call comes, I’ll be ready.

“This is one of the biggest games you could be involved in so it would be crazy to take your foot off the gas.

“If he doesn’t select me I will be understanding and respectful and support the team but if I can be involved – and even play – I will be ready to go.

“I spoke to the gaffer about it and we will do whatever it takes - even if it means training with another team I’m more than willing to do it, I would even train with a rugby team if it meant that I would get into the squad.

“Being included would top off an amazing season. I was there at Wembley – although I was in the stand for the game – and just to be involved in the training was a crazy experience for me.”