Don Cowie says Hearts’ derby win bigger than beating Celtic

The Hearts players celebrate Don Cowie's winning goal. Picture: SNS
The Hearts players celebrate Don Cowie's winning goal. Picture: SNS
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The man who scored the goal which ended Hibernian’s derby dominance admitted it felt like an “eternity” before the ball crossed the line and Hearts had won the cup-tie.

And Don Cowie confessed to it being “ironic” that his strike needed the tell-tale sprint back to halfway by the referee’s assistant as confirmation when an official in the recent league meeting between the teams had failed to award Hibs a legitimate goal.

“The ball bobbled along the line and I think John McGinn was trying to clear and maybe he didn’t manage to move his feet,” Cowie said.

“It’s just nicked off the post and fallen over [the line] by a couple of inches. It took an eternity. And it’s quite ironic really, coming only a couple of weeks after what happened it the last game.”

Cowie confessed the victory was even more important to Hearts than the 4-0 win which smashed Celtic’s record as Scotland’s Invincibles.

“No one expected us to beat Celtic that day and the manner in which we did led to a lot of people to fob it off as an off-day for them,” Cowie said.

“There’s no getting away from that fact – they did have an off-day but we were very good. But to break this run of results against Hibs is massive for us.”

The midfielder was asked about manager Craig Levein’s influence on the side. “We were in a poor run of form in the 12 months prior to Craig taking over and it’s only natural that you go into your shell. You start taking an extra touch, taking a bit longer to pick your pass and the groans start coming from the stands. It’s a vicious circle but we’ve managed to break that.

“At first Craig made us hard to beat but now you’re seeing us progress. Guys coming in like Steven Naismith are adding quality. It’s only a couple of years ago that he was being bought for serious money so it’s a real coup.”

Cowie felt Hearts deserved their win. “We were well on top,” he added.

“They maybe had a good spell when [Martin] Boyle had his effort. But apart from that I felt we were pretty much in control.”

Cowie, a 56th minute substitute, had been disappointed not to start. “These are the games you want to play and the day I’m not disappointed will be the day I have to re-evaluate my football,” he added.

“But I managed to come on early in the second half when I thought we started to have a really good spell. Hopefully the result can lead to us really pushing up the league and maybe we can finish with a bit of silverware as well. I’m getting to the latter stages of my career and I want to finish with a medal. Nothing would be sweeter than winning the Scottish Cup.”

Hibs defender Paul Hanlon said: “We’d been on a good derby run in and done well in the cup in recent seasons, so it’s disappointing to go out. The manner of the defeat is frustrating for us. We didn’t do ourselves justice. The fight was there, which you’d expect in a derby.

“But when we had time to get the ball down and play we 
never did. We rushed things, panicked a bit in possession and, in these games, that’s the easy thing to do. The hard thing is to compose yourself and pick a pass.

“Our run was going to end at some stage but it’s disappointing that we’re out of the cup. It was a scrappy game and a scrappy goal that won it.”