PAUL HANLON accepts he is unlikely to ever top Hibernian’s historic Scottish Cup triumph of 2016, but he insists that does not mean he will ever stop trying to emulate that remarkable success.
The defender believes the dramatic 3-2 win over Rangers, ending the Easter Road club’s 114-year wait for the trophy, was such that it created lifelong bonds with his team-mates from those Hampden heroics.
The 31-year-old was key to the success earlier in the competition when he bundled in an injury-time equaliser against Hearts at Tynecastle in the fifth round.
For a boyhood Hibs supporter, the emotional scenes that greeted the victory five years ago will be difficult to repeat, but Hanlon is eager to move a step closer to the silverware again by overcoming the dangers presented by League Two Stranraer at Stair Park tomorrow.
He said: “We got a taste of winning the Scottish Cup in 2016, and how big it is and how good it can be, and if that doesn’t whet your appetite for more then nothing will.
“We’re desperate to win it again, and to experience the incredible scenes all over again would be amazing.
“Probably like most Hibs-supporting families you start thinking, ‘are we going to see this happen?’. If I wasn’t playing and Hibs won the Scottish Cup, my family would be celebrating like they were anyway.
“But to have me in the team that eventually won it just made it extra special.
“Because we went on and won the trophy, that goal [against Hearts] is extra special. But, at the time, it was special as well because I’d scored my first goal against Hearts. It was a special moment and that is what cup football brings.
“If you’re lucky enough to go on and lift the trophy then you look back at all these moments along the way. From this weekend we have to start creating the moments that are going to get us there.”
Former team-mate Marvin Bartley this week hailed the special dynamics of the Hibs dressing room the year the Scottish Cup was finally secured, and Hanlon would love to create that same bond with his current colleagues.
He added: “I listened to a bit of Marvin Bartley’s interview [on Open Goal] and he’s spot on, that squad was as close as I’ve ever experienced.
“We’ve got a really good squad just now, really close, and I think when you create these special moments it’s great to be part of a squad like that, that’s so tight and wanting each other to do well, and in 2016 we definitely had that.
“It was a really hard-working group, but we were good mates as well off the pitch, and I could share a pint with any of them.
“That’s just the way the squad was then and when you create these special moments it’s when you look back and realise just how close and how tight we really were.”