BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
ANDREW SHINNIE believes it was “written in the stars” that he would face his brother Graeme in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
The Hibs playmaker may be focused on taking another stride towards the Championship title against Falkirk today, however he has revealed that the jibes between the siblings have already started ahead of next month’s Hampden showdown.
It will be the first time they have ever crossed swords in a competitive fixture and Aberdeen ace Graeme has already joked that their parents, Linda and Gary, are torn over who to support when their sons collide.
Andrew, speaking for the first time since the draw, admits the looming encounter has been a regular topic of discussion between the pair – and he has told his youngster brother that it is his to enjoy some Scottish Cup glory after Graeme led Inverness to the trophy in 2015.
“I just knew it before the draw,” he smiled. “You always think that kind of thing is written in the stars.
“We get on really well so we have had a good laugh about it already, but there was a bit of seriousness in it, saying ‘may the best man win’.
“He’s had quite a few finals recently so I have told him I am due one!
“It’s nice that one of us will be in the final and the other one will be there supporting. We have always done that in our careers.
“It will be a good occasion for the two of us, getting to play against each other for the first time. It will be weird, but that’s football.
“We played against each other in a friendly at youth team level but never in a proper game. It’s a massive game for our first one against each other. But what can you do?”
Shinnie’s immediate priority, however, is pulling 12 points clear of Falkirk when the Bairns visit Easter Road today.
The 27-year-old reckons Peter Houston’s side “bottled it” when their promotion bid came down to the wire last season, throwing away their 1-0 aggregate lead over Kilmarnock in the playoff final when they were battered 4-0 in the second leg at Rugby Park.
And he is determined to effectively end their hopes of going up automatically this term.
“You do get that feeling that there is a little edge to this game,” Shinnie continued. “Falkirk are a tough team to play against, they’re always around the promotion spots.
“They kind of bottled it a little bit against Kilmarnock last year and Kilmarnock had a big win on the day, but if they had turned up they would probably be in the Premiership now. So it will be a difficult game but we are ready for it.
“It would be a big win for us if we could get it and it would be a big blow for them.They’ll look at it and think if they can beat us they’re maybe back in the race. We can’t let that happen.”
Hibs will face the title showdown without two of their star men, with Ofir Marciano and John McGinn on international duty with Israel and Scotland respectively – a situation that manager Neil Lennon described as “surreal”.
Shinnie is adamant international week should mean a shutdown for the domestic calendar as a whole – not just the top-flight – to avoid this situation. Nevertheless, has backed the Hibees to handle the absences.
“I don’t know why the rules are the way they are,” he added. “I don’t know why the international break isn’t for everyone. Why should a team suffer by losing some of its best players?
“If you’re an international player, the chances are you’ll be one of the most important players in your team. So, if there’s a game, especially at this stage of the season, where you lose them it’s disappointing.
“But we have a lot of good midfielders at the club. Dylan [McGeouch] is back and Fraser [Fyvie] is back from suspension. Ofir will be a miss as well because he has been playing well. But Ross [Laidlaw] has done well whenever he has been in the side. So we have players who can come in.”