BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
ANDREW SHINNIE was a neutral when Hibs last faced Hearts at Tynecastle – yet he still got goosebumps watching Paul Hanlon’s dramatic equaliser.
Now the 27-year-old cannot wait to experience the blood and thunder of the Edinburgh derby for real.
The Scottish Cup fifth round has thrown up a repeat of the clash from last season, when the Hibees roared back from a 2-0 deficit at half-time to rescue a draw, sparking bedlam among a packed away section in Gorgie.
Cup-winner Fraser Fyvie recently cited that fixture as the moment the Hibees began to believe they would end their 114-year hoodoo and lift the trophy. Indeed, they went on to defeat the Jambos in the replay before seeing off Inverness, Dundee United and Rangers to claim glory.
Shinnie who was on loan at Rotherham from Birmingham City at the time, recalls the drama of the clash – and how he fancied being a part of it.
Shinnie recalled: “I have seen the Hibs fans in the derbies on TV and they are brilliant but you probably need to play in it to fully appreciate it.
“I saw the goals from the derby last season, I remember Paul [Hanlon] wheeling away when he scored late on and the fans going crazy. It makes you want to play in it.
“That’s what I was thinking when I came here. I wanted to experience a Hibs-Hearts derby, so when the draw came out I was delighted.
“The other night was a bit touch and go – and if we had got Raith Rovers we’d have gone there – but I’m just delighted that I’ll hopefully get to take part in an Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle. It doesn’t get better than that.”
Shinnie is desperate to play a starring role in another unforgettable cup campaign this term after admitting his teammates’ tales of last May have left him green with envy.
Reflecting on Hibs’ famous 3-2 win over Rangers, he recalled: “I saw Davie’s header in the last minute and when you watch it you just wish it was something you were a part of, you wish you were on the pitch and a part of the celebrations afterwards.
“I have seen the boys pictures and videos and they tell me stories about it and you listen with envy really, I wish I was a part of that. Hopefully I can write my own story with Hibs this year.”
However, head coach Neil Lennon has underlined that the club’s priority is to win the Championship title – ensuring Hibs will need to fight on two fronts if they are to retain the Scottish Cup.
That proved a challenging task under Alan Stubbs last season, with the club’s title charge faltering alongside their cup commitments. Shinnie, however, is adamant Hibs can sustain a double charge ahead of today’s visit to Queen of the South.
He continued: “I think it’s a positive to be fighting in two competitions.
“I have experienced it down south and it’s a bit different down there because there are so many games, you are playing midweek all the time. Sometimes when you play in the cup managers see it as a chance to rest players and play different players.
“But up here we are only really playing Saturday to Saturday and the cup falls on a Saturday as well. So it’s not really a distraction.
“You don’t need to rest players and bring in others, you go strong and you try and win the game.
“We’re at a good point just now, we’re doing well in the league and performing well in the cup. Everyone is focused in training, the gaffer doesn’t let us off with any slackness, he’s on top if us if anyone gets slack, so we are totally focused.”