BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
NEIL LENNON could sense the relief of finally ending a 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup the moment he walked through the door at Easter Road.
And the Hibs head coach has ordered his players to ensure they don’t let it go without a fight.
The capital club begin their cup defence tomorrow afternoon, exactly seven months after they ended their infamous hoodoo with a breathless 3-2 over Rangers.
While it was Alan Stubbs who led the Hibees to glory, it is Lennon who had the honour of being the first boss since Dan McMichael not to be asked ‘could this be the year’ by the press corps ahead of entering the competition.
Nevertheless, Lennon is adamant their determination to succeed is not diminished by the events of last May and, in a rallying call to his players, has urged them to repeat the feat this term.
He said: “You could feel tangible relief. Certainly among the support and what it meant to them. They had broken that record. That taboo of 114 years without a win was done so people were always going to talk about it.
“I said all along that there was a psychological barrier that we have got through with last season’s cup win.
“It just meant so much to everyone involved, but once you have had that taste of success then you want more. Once you have a hold on something, you don’t want to let it go – you don’t realise what you will miss until it’s gone!
“The Hibs fans can bask in the glory of that day but I would like to do it again. It is a tall order, obviously, but in cup football anything can happen.
“It would be nice to hold on to the Scottish Cup. It has not been at the forefront of my thinking for the majority of the season, granted, but now that the competition has come around I want to make a good fist of it.”
The first hurdle Hibs must overcome if they are to hold on to their silverware is Bonnyrigg Rose, the Midlothian Juniors who stunned Championship Dumbarton 1-0 to set up a fairytale fourth round tie.
The encounter will take place at a sold out Tynecastle and, while most onlookers would not give Robbie Horn’s minnows a prayer, Lennon is loathe to underestimate them.
Having experienced a few giant-killings in his time – including playing in Clyde’s famous 2-1 win over Celtic in 2006 – he will send his players out with laser focus.
Lennon added: “I have a few [shocks] as a player and as a manager and it is not nice. I watched Ipswich lose to Lincoln this week in the FA Cup, so it can happen.
“If you are not right and you don’t apply yourself and you don’t play well – if you believe you can just turn up and think everything will be alright – then you are in for a rude awakening. We want to make that pretty clear to the players.
“It is our cup and we have got to want it. I am pretty sure that they do.”