Sport Soccer

Saturday 21 October 2017

Fenlon off as Hibs famine goes on

Hearts 5 Hibernian 1

Kevin McCarra at Hampden Park

This Scottish Cup final promised a grand occasion as two historic Edinburgh clubs met but the day was as memorable for the inadequacies of Pat Fenlon's Hibernian, whose left-back Pa Kujabi was shown a red card, as it was for the flurry of goals in this romp for Hearts.

The sending-off was harmful to Hibs, but Paulo Sergio's side had a broader command. A cup final that is also a derby fixture has a multiplying effect. The intensity reaches great heights from the moment the contest begins, but the fervour allows no time for poise, in the early stages at least, so this fixture was blessed by a certain randomness that meant the deadlock was broken early on. Following Danny Grainger's corner in the 14th minute, Hearts right-back Ryan McGowan struck a drive that cannoned off Hibernian's Matthew Doherty, and defender Darren Barr converted from close range.

Onlookers would only have been absorbed at that stage of the match if they owed allegiance to one of the clubs. All the same, it did not take much longer for Hearts to establish a superiority that grew more marked as the match developed. It was much too easy for Barr to find space and beat Hibs goalkeeper Mark Brown. This occasion was rigorous, then, in displaying the truths of the Scottish Premier League season.

Hearts have just finished fifth, while Hibernian ended second bottom of the table, with only relegated Dunfermline beneath them. Their modest status was exposed well before the end of the first half. With 27 minutes gone, Sergio's players extended the lead.

Andrew Driver tapped the ball to Rudi Skacel and his attempt found the net with a small deflection off James McPake.It appeared then that Hearts would go on making the score echo their superiority.

As if lagging 2-0 were not bad enough, Hibernian might have begun to remember the club's sombre record in this event. They last won the Scottish Cup in 1902. Considering that the final then was staged on the opposition's ground, Celtic Park, it was quite a success, but the victors have displayed too little resilience in this competition over the subsequent 110 years.

They did rally to a degree on this occasion, with a goal in the 41st minute as Tom Soare's testing delivery was turned into the net by McPake.

Hibernian's search for stability was still futile though, regardless of their labours. Gambia international Kujabi had previously been noteworthy in this match for making a goalline clearance, but shortly after half-time he was shown the red card for a second bookable offence. He was deemed to have brought down Suso Santana for a contentious penalty, since the offence seemed to take place outside the area. Grainger converted calmly.

Hibernian's resistance had been broken beyond repair. McGowan had no difficulty in heading a fourth and the fifth came when Skacel struck once more with a low finish.

Much as Hibs have suffered during this campaign, the final must have been treated beforehand as an opportunity that would remove their pains. Instead there was to be the more profound suffering of a rout at the hands of opponents with whom they share a city. They had little else in common over the course of the afternoon with Hearts.

Hibs' misery was compounded when manager Fenlon was sent to the stand late on for gesturing to the Hearts fans, who had been singing his name. And he admitted they were beaten by the better team.

"I'm desperately disappointed," the Dubliner said. "We didn't turn up, we didn't deserve to win the game. We didn't show anything. The club has been like this for a while. There's no desire and we've got to change the players to change the outlook of the club."

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