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Fenlon has heart set on ending Hibs' Cup hoodoo

LIAM O'BRIEN, the Irish assistant manager of Hibernian, never has to pay for a drink in Newcastle as Magpies fans always want to thank him by buying him a pint, just for the fact that he scored for Newcastle United in a local derby against Sunderland.

So it's hard to imagine how Hibs fans will reward Pat Fenlon if he leads them to a much-needed Scottish Cup final success against Hearts today, fans only too aware that it's 110 years since Hibs last won the trophy. He'll get a statue at least.

Yet winning the Cup would not only earn Fenlon and the other Irish members of the Hibs family (assistant O'Brien as well as players Matt Doherty, Roy O'Donovan and Eoin Doyle) hero status, as a Cup success would also see Fenlon's stock rise to the extent where he would become very hot property.

But the 43-year-old, who has already won 10 trophies as a manager in Ireland, says that thoughts of managing a bigger club -- or even some day managing his country -- are far from his mind and all he's bothered about is leading Hibs to a Cup final win over their close rivals.

"Managing Ireland? It's not in my head. I want to do the best I can in the job I am in at the time, whatever happens after that is mapped out for you, I have always believed that," Fenlon told the Herald. "I'm not going to start shouting about wanting to manage Celtic or manage Ireland, I want to manage Hibs and do a good job with them. If people think I've done a good job there you never know what the next stage might be.

"This is a fabulous club to manage, what excites me here is that Hibs are now at the bottom of things, we just avoided relegation, but there is real potential there to get it right, and I want to get them back to where they should be. Hibs should be one of the top clubs in Scotland, that's a challenge and I want to be a success at that."

Fenlon's own record in the main Cup competition, as a player and manager, is only average: he's been involved in the game for 25 seasons as a player and manager, back since he started his senior career with St Pats in 1987, and has won the Cup five times, four as a player.

"The first Cup win as a player, with Bohs in '92, was special," he says. "Then I won it twice as a player with Linfield, once with Shels as a player and once as Bohs manager.

"The league was always the priority for the teams I managed. But it would be very, very special to win this Cup against Hearts."

3HIBS v HEARTS, Scottish Cup Final, (KO 3.0) Live Sky Sports 4