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Posts Tagged ‘ Garry O`Connor ’

Leigh Griffiths vows to silence the doubters

 

Leigh Griffiths

On loan Hibs star Leigh Griffiths is aware that some fans amongst the Easter Road faithful are concerned about his return to the club and have their doubts regarding his attitude, but he is determined to change their minds and do his talking on the pitch.

Speaking at the weekly press conference, Griffiths’ said: “My mates have been reading a few of the forum sites and apparently a few Hibs fans didn’t want me back but I’ve said in the press I’m trying to change and that starts with everything. Obviously the manager spoke to me as well and hopefully I can calm down a bit. I’ve still got some fire in my belly that the manager likes and I don’t think he wants to take that out of me, it’s just the stupid stuff like gesturing to the fans and getting involved with the referees that I’m trying to cut out of my game and hopefully the fans will see that in the coming weeks.

With no Rangers in the SPL this season, second place is up for grabs, but Leigh believes that may be a step too far for Hibs at the moment, but he is determined to fire the team into the top six.

He continued: “You can’t jump from eleventh to second straight away but we will do our best, obviously there are three European places up for grabs and if we can get into the top six you never know what would happen: if we get three home games and two away. We’ve got a difficult start to the league campaign with Dundee United and the derby here on the eleventh. It’s going to be hard but hopefully if we can take maximum points we could set ourselves up for a good campaign.”

“We are looking at top six because Hibs are a top six team. Last year was a bit of a blimp but we are looking to rectify that and hopefully be in the top six this year.”

On a more positive note, he expressed his joy at the news that he will start the season in the famous number nine jersey for the Easter Road club which has been worn by club legends such as Lawrie Reilly, Joe Baker, Alan Gordon and Keith Wright. “I’m delighted to get the number nine jersey. I got told on Tuesday just before the game that I was getting the official number and I managed to get the training kit this morning and I was absolutely delighted, taking pictures of it and stuff. I partnered Garry (O’Connor) last year and he’s been number nine when he was here before, and the likes of Keith Wright, and before that the legends who have also worn it. Obviously I’m not in the legendry bracket but hopefully I can write my name into the history books this year. I’m hoping to be the main striker and with the number nine jersey it gives me added responsibility but I’m happy to take it.

“I could have stayed in England but I know the manager likes me and I have faith in what I can do for the team and that’s playing well and scoring goals.”

The lifelong fan certainly silenced a few doubters with his goal and all round performance in yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Huddersfield Town, and left the field to a standing ovation.

Photograph by J.C.Mackintosh

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Fenlon looks forward to Rapid Bucharest test

Hibs kick off this campaign with a friendly against Rapid Bucharest on Wednesday 11 July. The Romanian club, who finished fourth in their domestic league, are in Scotland preparing for their Europa League campaign, and manager Pat Fenlon that the warm up game will be a difficult affair.

Fenlon told Hibs TV: “Rapid Bucharest have already played a few games as well, so they will be a fair bit ahead of us fitness-wise, but it will be a good test for us. Rapid are a decent continental team, who will keep the ball and we will get some real work out of them.

“That’s what you want to get for pre-season games. You want to get results where you can, but it is more about getting match practice and work on sharpness, touch and technique.

“It’s a tough start, but I wanted our pre-season games to be tough because in the longer term it will help. There has to be something at stake and we need to get something out of it.

“Pre-season is all about hard work. It’s not always nice as a player – I’ve been there, but as a player you feel the benefit after getting a week or two under your belt; you can feel yourself getting to the fitness level you need to be at.

“We need to make sure we hit the ground running when we get to the first league game. There’s been a lot of hard work which is then leading into quicker stuff.

“It’s been good, the players have worked really hard and they have embraced everything we’ve put in front of them. They’ve worked as hard as they can to make sure their fitness levels go up.”

So far Hibs have signed three players; Tim Clancy, James McPake and Paul Cairney, but Fenlon is aware of the need for the team to score goals from different areas of the side and reveals he is searching for a striker.

He said: “We want to share the goals around. Last year, Leigh (Griffiths) and Garry (O’Connor) got us plenty of goals, but we didn’t get too many from other areas.

“So it’s important that we mix it up. We don’t have many strikers at the club at present. Obviously Doyler (Eoin Doyle) is the main striker and then we’ve got some young boys in Danny Handling and Ross Caldwell.

“We’re looking to bring one in there as well. So we need to share the load and if we can chip in with more goals it will make everything easier.”

The game will take place at Grangemouth where Rapid Bucharest are based during their stay in Scotland. Kick off 7.45pm.

Meanwhile Hibs fans get a final chance to say goodbye to club captain Ian Murray at his testimonial dinner tonight. The event will be held at the Corn Exchange and hosted by Grant Stott with an hour long concert by The Proclaimers.

Irish News Review will be present at the event and a full account of the proceedings will be published tomorrow.

Paul Cairney becomes Fenlon’s third signing of summer

Pat Fenlon today made his third signing of the summer with the capture of Paul Cairney from Partick Thistle. The 24 year old Glaswegian has been linked with a move since the end of the season, and the move finally took place in time for pre-season training.

Cairney joins James McPake and Tim Clancy in the Easter Road squad, and manager Fenlon insists he is keen to add more players in time for the new campaign.

The former Boh’s manager told Hibs TV “Paul has been on our radar for a while now and we’re delighted to add him to the squad. He will offer us something different. He is a midfielder who likes to get forward and is always looking to spark the game into life.

“He can play in a number of positions both in midfield and in the forward areas and can finish well when he gets the chance. Paul has also got a fantastic attitude and never hides in a game.

“He is always looking to get on the ball. Plus he has the drive and ambition to help us to move forward as a team.”

Cairney started his career with Glasgow amateurs Queens Park for whom he played 54 times, scoring eight goals, before joining Partick Thistle. He then returned to Queens Park on loan, scoring another eight goals in 33 starts, and subsequently made 95 appearances for The Jags, scoring 18 goals, including 12 last season, bringing him to the attention of Hibs.

He said: “It’s absolutely amazing to sign for Hibs; it’s definitely the highlight of my career so far. But this is just the start of it, now I want to show the Hibs fans what I’m all about. Hibs are a massive club, everything is in place for us to kick on and have a strong season.”

The signing adds to the feel good factor which is slowly returning to Easter Road after the cup final defeat in May, and the news that James McPake had finally signed was greeted with delight by the Hibs faithful.

The 28-year-old, Northern Ireland internationalist will retain the captain’s armband, and he immediately promised better things to come. He said: “It’s looking very likely that there will be no Rangers in the SPL and that’s got its positives and negatives. It will be disappointing not to face them but on the other side there’s one less good team in the league. That gives teams like Hibs, Hearts and Dundee United the chance to try to put in a challenge to Celtic.

“I felt at home at the club and I developed a special relationship with the supporters. I’m excited to be part of what will be a new-look Hibs team. When the fans see stuff progressing with a couple of signings coming, I’m sure they will get behind us.”

Given the number of players who left the club at the end of the season, Fenlon is determined to increase his squad. He said:  “We’re pleased with the progress we’re making on the transfer front but we’re hopeful we can add some more new faces in the near future.”

As usual, the identity of Hibs targets remain a closely guarded secret, but speculation mounts that former midfielder and fan’s favourite Dean Shiels may be returning to Leith, and following Garry O’Connor being sentenced to 200 hours community service following his conviction for drugs offences, which could potentially rule out a move to Russia or China, a new one year contract could suit everybody concerned.

Irish Duo Leave Hibs

Former Republic of Ireland under 21 goalkeeper Graham Stack has become the latest Hibs player to leave the club after he was notified that his contract will not be extended. The 30 year old was signed by John Hughes three years ago, but a series of injuries have resulted in him only playing 61 times.

This season, he finally became the number one choice, taking over from Mark Brown, but a torn thigh muscle sustained in the semi-final against Aberdeen ended his Easter Road career and meant that he missed the Cup Final defeat last Saturday.

The former Arsenal player was a popular figure around the club and messaged his disappointment to fans via Facebook saying: “After 3 seasons at Hibernian I’m sad and gutted to have played my last game. It’s a Club that me and my Family have loved from day one and a City that’s became our home. Fans I’ve met along the way have been brilliant and will not be forgotten

“Those who have stuck by me through my injuries and picked me up when things on the pitch were bad i can’t thank you enough. It’s been a mixed journey of ups and downs, finishing 4th in my first season and getting into Europe was a real high as well reaching the Scottish Cup final more recently and saving a penalty in the Derby at Easter Rd.

“My biggest regret is to have not won any Silverware and missing so much football in my second season. I’d like to think having played 35 games this season I’ve shown people i can stay fit and played my part in keeping us up. I’ve now got to move on with my life and career and have no idea where it will go but one thing is for sure i can leave knowing whenever I’ve put the Hibs strip on I’ve given nothing less than everything to perform at my best and win every game!

“ I know everyone is still hurting after the weekend but i firmly believe it is a ”Great Club” and changes do need to be made but in years to come it will achieve a top 3 finish and will win The Scottish Cup and no one deserves it more than the supporters!! Thanks for everything STACKY and FAMILY X X X”

Stack’s exit was confirmed 24 hours after Hibs released club captain Ian Murray and young players Scott Taggart and Sean Welsh.

Garry O’Connor who is also out of contract has confirmed that he will not be signing an extension, whilst loan players George Francombe, Matt Doherty, Roy O’Donovan, Tom Soares, Richie Towell, Leigh Griffiths and James McPake have all returned to their parent clubs.

Fenlon has indicated that he may be talking to some of their clubs when the players concerned return from holidays, and the supporters are desperate to for the club to sign James McPake from relegated Coventry. The influential centre half was called up by Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neil for the forthcoming friendly against Holland. McPake qualifies for Northern Ireland through his Antrim born grandfather on his mother’s side.

Former Bohemians defender and Dublin native Matt Doherty confirmed that there is ‘no chance’ of him being at Easter Road next season in an interview after the final.

Fenlon Charged By SFA After Cup Final Gesture

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has been charged by the SFA with offensive or insulting behaviour during the closing stages of Saturday’s 5-1 defeat to Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final.

Fenlon was sent to the stand by referee Craig Thomson after he was seen to aim a gesture in the general direction of celebrating Hearts fans who were taunting him by singing ‘There’s only one Pat Fenlon.’

After the match Fenlon denied that the gesture was directed at fans, and claimed that his frustration was with his own players.

The former Bohs boss said: “I made a gesture in relation to the way we were playing. We kept giving the ball away cheaply. I don’t know what they were singing to be honest. There is a hell of a lot made in relation to the gesture.”

Fenlon will appear before the SFA compliance officer on Thursday, June 14, charged with breaching rule 203, which forbids offensive or insulting behaviour and could be banned from the dugout for the start of next season. He has until Tuesday, May 29, to respond to the charge.

Hibs fans have reacted with fury at the news, considering that no action has been taken in respect of the blatant dive by Hearts winger Suso Santana, which resulted in a penalty along with a red card for Pa Kujabi which effectively ended the match as a contest.

Fenlon’s after match interview where he slammed the player’s desire and suggested that there would be wholesale changes in the squad has been welcomed by fans who are rightfully angry about the lacklustre performance. A photograph of striker Garry O’Connor allegedly in an Edinburgh night club after the game has sparked outrage on a fan’s forum after it was published on Facebook.

Meanwhile the club has issued a statement thanking the fans for their support throughout the season and at Hampden.  The statement on the club’s website reads:  ‘Hibernian FC today thanked all its supporters for their commitment and backing of the team over the past season and at the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday.

The match and result were devastating to everyone associated with Hibernian especially after such a colourful and exciting build up in Hampden Park. The club would like to thank supporters and Group Section 43 in particular for their efforts in coordinating such a wonderful display and to all the Hibees at the game for backing the team so vociferously.

The commitment of all Hibernian supporters is sincerely appreciated; Hibernian is their club. The Boars and Manager recognise that the nature of Saturday’s defeat reinforces the scale of the task that faces us in rebuilding the squad in preparation for next season.

The club would also like to thank all the staff who worked tirelessly in the build up to the Cup Final. As with the supporters, their dedication to Hibernian is of paramount importance and deeply appreciated.’

Hibs Irish contingent determined to reward fans with cup win

As Hibs prepare for arguably the biggest game in their history, the Irish contingent at Easter Road are determined to do everything in their power to bring the Scottish Cup back to Leith for the first time since 1902. Pat Fenlon insists that no team managed by him will ever be bullied, First team coach Liam O’Brien claims that the current players deserve their place in the final and striker Eoin Doyle believes that the happiest Irishman this week will be Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary given the number of seats booked by his friends and family.

Speaking from Tolka Rovers ground where the squad have been put through their paces, the former Bohs manager said; “We’ve got to get confidence into them and the belief that we can go and compete with anyone, I’ve said it before, if we play well on the day we can compete with any team. We can match most teams when we play well. It is just important that we believe that.

“We’ve got some really good players at the club. The boys that have come in on loan have given us a lift. We’ve got some good young players who are starting to come back into a bit of form. You can see the confidence coming back into them.

“We have confidence and we don’t fear anyone. As long as I am the manager, we won’t be bullied by anybody. I think that’s happened too many times with Hibs in Hearts games. We’ve just got to make sure we compete and give our best.”

“I’d like to win the cup but I think that’s for other people to enjoy themselves and celebrate on the day. If it happens, it will be a great moment for everyone associated with the club. But from my point of view, it is about trying to bring the club back to where it belongs. That would be a big stepping stone towards doing that.”

Fenlon’s views were echoed by First Team Coach Liam O’Brien who has hit back at suggestions that the players do not deserve to go down in history as legends, particularly given the number of on-loan signings in the team and the poor league form this season.

The former Manchester United, Newcastle United and Republic of Ireland star said: “There are plenty of players and managers, who have never got to a Cup final, never had the chance to win it, but these lads have an opportunity to make history and I hope that will happen.

“It hasn’t happened for all those great players down through the years but now history can be written and these players have earned the right to be there. You can only beat what is put in front of you and that’s what they have done in every round, so they deserve to be in the final.”

“Our main aim when we came in was to keep the club in the SPL and we managed to do that. We’ve had a fantastic run to get to the final which is a massive achievement. The way the season has gone for us no-one would have predicted that but now we could cap it off by turning what has been a really poor season into a fantastic one.”

O’Brien revealed that it didn’t take long to discover Hibs deplorable cup record after arriving at Easter Road.  He said: “We were asked to do a job and a week later you are told the last time Hibs won the Cup Jesus Christ was wearing short trousers. It’s been a long time, you hear it every week but now there’s a great chance for us. It’s a game of football, there’s 90 minutes to win it and that’s what we will be telling them. I think it’s gripped the imagination of everyone. It’s great for the city of Edinburgh but unfortunately one of us is going to be unhappy come Saturday night. Hopefully it won’t be Hibs.”

Meanwhile former Sligo Rovers hitman Eoin Doyle, who has played in the last three Irish Cup finals, winning the previous two on penalties, insists that it’s the result that counts, not the manner of the victory.

Doyle said: “Obviously the club itself has that connection to Ireland and formed before Celtic. As such there is a following for Hibs in any case. But a good few of the reporters who turned up had reported on us when we’d played in the League of Ireland and the fact we’re now looking to play in the Scottish Cup final has created a great deal of interest.”

Twenty-eight of Doyle’s friends and family have found tickets, booked flights and hotels and are hoping to celebrate a famous victory at Hampden. “I think all of us have quite a few coming over, probably enough to fill a couple of Ryanair flights. They’ve all got their tickets and flights booked and are looking forward to it.

“But I’m sure there would be a few empty seats going back on Sunday if we win; they’ll all want to stay for a party.”

“In a cup final anything can happen. I’ve won the cup in Ireland being both favourites and underdogs so it doesn’t matter when it comes to the day; it all goes out of the window.

“It’s you against them and to me it’s a case of whoever wants it more on the day and I’m sure that will be us. Cup finals are sometimes not the greatest of games to watch, it’s a matter of getting through it and hoping you can nick the goal.

“What we do know is it’s going to be a massive occasion, the first all-Edinburgh derby in how long and there’s obviously the history at this club of not having won it for 110 years. We also know we could forever be part of club folklore if we do win.

“I think everyone is dreaming of scoring the winner; even Mark Brown our goalie threw his name into the hat at one point. But who scores doesn’t matter so long as we do it.”

“The first year I played in the final we were beaten by Sporting Fingal. I’d scored but they got two in the last six minutes. The next one was the very first game in the new Aviva Stadium which was something special as was the match itself. It ended 0-0 against Shamrock Rovers but we won 2-0 on penalties with our goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly saving four of their spot-kicks. And last November we were drawing 1-1 with Shelbourne Rovers when Ciaran came on for the last couple of minutes and then went on to save two more penalties as we won 4-1 (in the shoot-out).

“Winning on penalties didn’t belittle either of those victories in any way. I don’t care how we win; it’s the name that’s engraved on the trophy, not the way it’s won.”

The 24 year old will probably start on the bench with on-form Leigh Griffiths and Garry O’Connor likely to start the game, but his performance and goal against Dunfermline has given Fenlon something to think about. Whether he features or not, Doyle has more than played his part in the historic cup run, with a goal in the 3-2 win at Cowdenbeath and the only goal of the game against Kilmarnock. As Fenlon’s first signing Doyle believes that things are definitely looking up at Easter Road since the January transfer window.

He said: “I think the team has developed massively, a lot of boys have come in and a few left but we have progressed over the last month or two. It’s all starting to come together and we’ll be going into the final with a bit of confidence.

“The gaffer had been talking of making sure we stayed in the SPL, getting to the cup final has been a bonus and to win it would be a great achievement.”

Injury blow for Fenlon as Hibs lose to Inverness

Pat Fenlon faces an injury worry after full back Matt Doherty limped off during Hibs two goal defeat to Inverness Caledonian at the Tullochs Caledonian Stadium in the club’s final league game of a disappointing season.

The Easter Road men went into the game knowing that a three goal victory would move Hibs above Caley in the table, and gain an extra £80,000 in prize money, but his team selection suggested that such thoughts were far from his mind.

Fenlon made eight changes to the team which scored four without reply against Dunfermline on Monday night to retain their place in next season’s SPL. Only Dubliner Matt Doherty who scored the opener, Garry O’Connor and Tom Soares retained their place as the manager wrapped a few in cotton wool ahead of next week’s cup final. Teenage keeper Paul Grant, a lifelong supporter of the club who started the season as fourth choice, made his debut in place of Mark Brown.

Up until this season, Hibs had never won a competitive game in Inverness, but an early season 1-0 victory and a recent 3-2 win have laid the hoodoo to rest. Caley manager Terry Butcher felt hard done by with both results and the former England captain was determined to gain revenge for these defeats.

Both teams were guilty of some poor passing in a typical end of season encounter with nothing at stake and the only highlight of a dull first half was a George Francombe 25 yard strike which Ryan Esson did well to save.

Leigh Griffiths replaced O’Connor for the second half, but it was the Highland outfit who started more brightly and young Grant made his first SPL save from a powerful Johnny Hayes strike. Kenny Gillet went close with a long range shot before a Greg Tansey free kick opened the scoring.

Teenage midfielder Sam Stanton replaced Soares after 60 minutes, but the youngster was unable to make an impact before matt Doherty was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. Irishman Hayes made no mistake from the spot and the game was effectively over as a contest.

Midweek goal-scorer Eoin Doyle replaced his fellow countryman before long term club captain Ian Murray almost scored an own goal in what is likely to be his last appearance for his boyhood heroes in his testimonial year when he misjudged a defensive header which spun narrowly past the post.

Griffiths created a chance near the end, but he was forced wide before his shot was easily saved.

In the last minute, on loan Wolves defender Doherty limped off after a clash with Billy McKay and the management and supporters all hope that the knock is a minor one and that he will be available for the cup final next week. The former Boh’s star has become a firm favourite with the Easter Road fans since his January move.

Final opponents Hearts face champions Celtic tomorrow whilst Fenlon takes his squad to Dublin to prepare for the game.

Inverness: Esson, Tokley, Shinnie, Gillet, Piermayr, Hayes, Tansey, Foran, Shinney,Tade, McKay. Subs Tuffey, Proctor, Golobart, Meekings, Tudor Jones, Ross, Sutherland.

Hibs: Grant, Francombe, O’Hanlon, Murray, Stephens, Doherty, Wotherspoon, Sproule, Soares, O’Connor, O’Donovan. Subs Brown, Booth, Towell, Stanton, Monaghan, Doyle, Griffiths

Attendance  4,457

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