Niall McGinn is determined to end his Aberdeen career with a Scottish Cup winner’s medal – and victory against a Hibernian team managed by the man who ended his dream of success at Celtic would be a welcome bonus en route.
The Aberdeen winger is expected to be fit enough to start at Hampden on Saturday despite missing last weekend’s 2-1 win over St Johnstone with a groin strain.
That’s great news for Derek McInnes as he attempts to steer the Dons to their first Scottish Cup final in 17 years but not so good for the Northern Ireland international’s fellow countryman at Easter Road.
Gordon Strachan signed McGinn for Celtic but the player knew his days there were numbered even before Neil Lennon sent him on a season-long loan to Brentford in the summer of 2011.
Ironically his last start for Celtic was a 1-0 win against Aberdeen the previous January, 18 months before the then Pittodrie club’s manager Craig Brown snapped him up under freedom of contract.McGinn has arguably been the Dons’ best player in the five years since, a fact reflected in the number of English sides interested in signing him now, as he hopes to prove again to the Hibs manager in the semi-final
“I was with Lenny for a couple of years at Celtic,” said McGinn. “Any time the opportunity came, I played quite a bit under Lenny. Then there was a stage in the last six months when I didn’t play. I knew my career was going elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world though.”
It’s fair to say the pair didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things during their time together at Celtic Park but despite any differences McGinn has nothing but admiration for the job his former manager has done at Easter Road.
He also knows that will make the Championship side tough to beat when they go head-to-head for a place against one of the Old Firm in the final. But McGinn is certain an Aberdeen team with 16 wins and just three defeats in their last 19 matches are good enough get the job done.
He added: “Hibernian are a really good side and Lenny will bring heart and determination to Hibs. We know he has done a good job and has a good bunch of lads, a good squad of players. They are full of players we have played against before who have been in the league with us.
“They have done well under Lenny and he will have them playing the right sort of football but he will also know he is coming up against a good side in Aberdeen.
“We know we are in for a very tough game but it is one we are looking forward to. It is a semi-final and it will be about who performs on the day. It is about showing up and taking care of business.”