HE ADMITS it may have been more of a slide tackle than a sweetly-struck volley, but Paul Hanlon reckons it will take a lot to top the feeling of his Edinburgh derby equaliser that helped Hibs on their way to last year’s historic Scottish Cup triumph.
The defender grew up a Hibs supporter and will this evening run out for his 23rd clash with his club’s bitter city rivals determined to relish the latest encounter as much as his first back in 2009.
Buoyed by a sequence of seven matches without defeat in the fixture, the 27-year-old would have every right to face the Jambos with more confidence than at previous junctures in his topsy-turvy career with his boyhood heroes.
But he accepts only a winning goal in front of a sold-out Easter Road would overtake the memory he cherishes from the injury-time strike that completed Hibs’ late comeback from 2-0 down to earn a cup replay in February 2016.
“This derby is just as exciting as my first to be honest,” he said. “But I try and prepare the same way for every single game.
“I don’t try and do anything different because it’s Hearts. I eat properly, sleep when I normally would. I don’t change much.
“The goal in 2016 was definitely my derby highlight. It was a special goal, it got us the replay.
“I still get fans talking about it now and obviously the fact we went on and won the cup makes it even better.
“Being a Hibs fan as well it’s one I remember. It’s not until you look back at that run you realise how important it was to keep us in the cup.
“I just remember sliding in with my right foot, it probably looked more like a slide tackle than a volley or anything like that.
“It managed to go through the bodies and then the stand erupted.
“As a boy, you’re involved in that as a fan and it’s amazing – but to make it happen on the pitch was an unbelievable feeling.
“I think with these games when something like that happens it feels more like a win than a draw.
“How do you top that? By scoring the winner!”