Posts Tagged ‘ Roy O’Donovan ’

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.

Hibs Almost Safe After Pittodrie Win

Forgotten man Sean O’Hanlon was the unlikely hero as Hibs took a major step forward in their battle to avoid the drop, with a hard fought win at Pittodrie. The 2-1 victory, coupled with Dunfermline’s no score draw at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium means that Pat Fenlon’s men need just one point from their remaining two games to ensure SPL football next season at Easter Road.

Despite defeats to Kilmarnock and St Mirren since the break, former Bohs boss Fenlon has insisted that the players had been playing well and he had every confidence that their efforts would pay dividends.

Craig Brown’s team were still smarting from their heavy loss to Dunfermline and were determined to gain revenge for the semi-final defeat at Hampden last month, before a disappointing crowd of just over 5,000.

Fenlon brought in O’Hanlon to replace the injured James McPake whilst Jorge Claros replaced the suspended Lewis Stevenson. Top scorer Garry O’Connor returned to the team after missing the St Mirren game due to an illness, and replaced former Sligo Rovers striker Eoin Doyle who returned to the bench. Craig Brown made three changes to the team which lost 3-0 to Dunfermline on Saturday.

Hibs started brightly and took the lead after only seven minutes when a Leigh Griffiths cross was turned into his own net by Mark Reynolds, much to the delight of the travelling support.

The Easter Road men doubled their lead ten minutes later. Isaiah Osbourne robbed Fraser Fyvie in midfield, but his long range shot was deflected by Andrew Considine. Griffiths took the corner and O’Hanlon, who has barely featured in the first team since the departure of Colin Calderwood, headed the ball past Jamie Langfield at the near post for his second goal of the season.

Griffiths went close with a free kick as Hibs dominated the first half with 60% possession and the Dons left the field at half time to a chorus of boos from the home support.

The home side took the criticism to heart and pulled a goal back shortly after the break when Scott Vernon volleyed home from close range.

As the nerves began to show, Aberdeen took control of the game and Mark Brown did well to tip a fierce shot from Arnason over the bar. Hibs tried to hit on the break and Roy O’Donovan set up David Wotherspoon inside the box, but the youngster hit his shot over the bar.

With seconds to go, Magennis headed an injury-time corner over the bar, and the visitors held out to take the points.

After the game, Fenlon claimed that the victory was more important than the cup game. He said:” “If it means we stay up then it’ll be a much bigger win. I thought we played better tonight than we did in the semi-final to be honest.”

“It’s not done yet, the important thing is that we don’t get carried away. Dunfermline are going to come and throw everything at us, it’s a big game now for them as well.”

“At the end of the game we were under pressure but we should have been out of sight at that stage, we missed a fair few chances tonight. When it gets to this stage of the season it is a little bit edgy.”

The Hibs boss was also praised the efforts of Garry O’Connor who played despite not being 100% fit.

“He did well to last as long as he did as he’s been fairly ill for the past three or four days, so he’s only had one training session under his belt in about six days.”

Aberdeen: Langfield, Reynolds, Considine, Jack, Anderson, Hughes, Arnason, Fyvie, Rae Masson Vernon, Magennis  Subs. Brown, McArdle, Clarke, Fraser, Fallon, Mackie Megginson

Hibs: Stack, McPake, Kujabi, Hanlon, Doherty, Soares, Francombe, Claros, Osbourne, Griffiths, O’Connor, Subs Grant, Doyle, Sproule, Murray, O’Donovan, Wotherspoon Stephens

Attendance  5,281

Uncertainty Hampers Fenlon’s Plans For Next Season

As the Easter Road ticket office staff work overtime trying to deal with the large queues, and the conversations in the pubs and clubs of Leith have only one topic, Hibs manager Pat Fenlon has much more on his plate than the forthcoming Scottish Cup final.

Until the club are mathematically safe from relegation, his preparations for next season are on hold, although the former Bohs boss realises that another massive change in playing staff will be necessary if the club is to progress. Goalkeepers Graham Stack and Mark Brown will soon be out of contract along with Ian Murray and Garry O’Connor, whilst Leigh Griffiths and Richie Towell along with January arrivals James McPake, Tom Soares, Matt Doherty and Roy O’Donovan are all due to return to their parent clubs.

Media speculation has linked Hibs with Partick Thistle’s Paul Cairney, Dundee United’s Leith-born winger Danny Swanson, Barry Nicholson of Preston North End and Morton’s French youngster Fouad Bachirou, but Fenlon is frustrated that he cannot sign up the players he wants until he knows which division the club will be playing in next year.

Fenlon said: “We’ve been watching players, we’ve had people out all over the place watching games looking at players for next season but at the moment I’m not in a position to do anything.

“In relation to the players already here who we want to keep, we want to be able to give them that peace of mind as well. But we are in control of our own destiny.”

This weekend could see Hibs virtually safe if they can get all three points at New Love Street on Sunday and Dunfermline lose to Aberdeen at East End Park. These results would see Hibs nine points clear with three games to go, but if they went the other way, then only three points would separate the teams who have yet to meet.

Skipper James McPake has also banished all thoughts of Hampden from his mind as he prepares for the trip to Paisley, and warns his team mates about the threat from the Pars who fought back from 4-2 down last week to gain a point.

The former Livingston defender said: “Of course they’ll see a bit of hope, they’ve gained a point on us. But they still need two wins, perhaps three because of our superior goal difference but that can turn.

“Games may be running out but that point could prove to be massive if we do not get our heads right and get the victories we need to keep us in this league. There’s no way a club of this size should be fighting for its SPL status at this stage of the season but just being a big club doesn’t give you any divine right.

“We cannot talk about the cup because we are in a bad position, second bottom of the league albeit we are six points clear with four games remaining. But things can quickly turn. If we are thinking about the cup and have that in our heads then we’ll get a shock because we’ll be going to Inverness for our last game of the season either behind Dunfermline or needing to win to stay in this division.

“For this club that’s criminal. I’ve said from day one a club this size has to be in the SPL, there’s no doubt about it. The cup final is nothing compared to staying in the SPL for me.”

Meanwhile, Hibs beat Sunderland 1-0 in a closed-doors match on Wednesday, their goal coming via the penalty spot from former Sligo Rovers striker Eoin Doyle.

Hibs Still Not Safe After Losing To Kilmarnock

A Dean Shiels penalty just before half time was enough to secure the three points for Kilmarnock in a hard fought encounter at Easter Road.

Hibs went into the game with the knowledge that whilst fellow relegation candidates Dunfermline had fought back from 4-2 down against St Mirren to earn a point on Saturday, a victory would almost certainly mean SPL football next year.

Pat Fenlon made two changes from last week’s starting line-up, with Mark Brown replacing the injured Graham Stack and Lewis Stevenson who has just signed a new one year contract, replacing the injured Tom Soares.

The game kicked off in front of a disappointing crowd of just under 9,000 and Garry O’Connor created a chance within ten seconds when he dispossessed a Kilmarnock defender but his first touch let him down and the danger was averted.

Leigh Griffiths was controversially booked for diving after seven minutes when the on-loan forward went down in the penalty box after a challenge from Michael Nelson.

Griffiths almost scored after 24 minutes with a great effort which was tipped over the bar by Cammy Bell, and the Kilmarnock keeper had to be on his toes as Hibs gained three corners in a row. Hibs continued to dominate the game and Jorge Claros almost opened his Hibs account five minutes later with a long range shot which went narrowly wide, whilst a Liam Kelly tackle denied Griffiths after good work by O’Connor.

Referee Craig Thompson infuriated the home support by failing to book James Dayton after the Kilmarnock winger blatantly dived following a challenge from Pa Kujabi, and skipper James McPake went close with a header from a Lewis Stevenson cross.

A well struck Isaiah Osbourne shot appeared to hit James Fowler on the arm, but nothing was given as Hibs continued to chase the elusive opener.

Just before the break, Claros ran into the back of Liam Kelly in the box and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Former Hibs favourite Dean Shiels sent Brown the wrong way to take an undeserved lead at half time.

The Easter Road faithful looked worried as on-form striker Garry O’Connor limped off and was replaced by Roy O’Donovan, and the second half continued with the home side having the upper hand.

Claros and Griffiths went close as Fenlon’s men chased the equaliser, but it was not to be, and the referee’s final whistle ensured that this season will go down in the history books as the club’s worst ever series of  home results, with only one victory at Easter Road.

The crowd left the officials in no doubt about their opinions about the referee’s performance, and after the game, a dejected Pat Fenlon said; “I’m disgusted that we haven’t got something out of it because we played quite well, my players’ performance was very good. He (Referee Craig Thomson) has got to assess his and other people have got to assess him, so I’ll let them do that.”

Hibs: Stack, McPake, Kujabi, Hanlon, Doherty, Claros, Sproule, Stevenson, Osbourne, Griffiths, O’Connor, Subs Stephens, Doyle, Francombe, Grant, O’Hanlon. O’Donovan, Wotherspoon

Kilmarnock Bell, Toshney, O’Leary, Fowler, Nelson, Kelly, Gordon, Dayton Harkins, Shiels, Racchi. Subs  Letheren, McKeown, Barbour, Sissoko, Silva, Johnson,Gross

Ref: Craig Thomson

Attendance 8877

Fenlon slams ludicrous SPL post-split fixture shambles

Pat Fenlon has hit out at the “ludicrous” SPL post-split fixtures, which will see Hibs play their five games on four different days of the week. The team initially face two Sunday matches before playing on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in May. The supporters also face a 250-mile round trip on a Wednesday evening to play Aberdeen.

The former Bohs manager told Hibs TV: “It’s peculiar. I don’t know who has sat down and worked them out, but it’s crazy. It’s ludicrous, but you have to get on with it. We can only approach the games properly and make sure at the end of it we are still in the league.

“Saturday afternoon is football day in most people’s eyes but you’ve now got four different days and however many different kick-off times.”

Meanwhile Chairman Rod Petrie has issued a rallying call to the fans as the club announced an extension to the ‘Early Bird’ season ticket offer.

In an open message to supporters on the club’s official website, he said: “Your team needs you – it’s as simple as that.

“If we do not rally to the cause no-one else will. Supporters will help determine how good an end to the season we have and the shape of the team for next season. We had a catastrophic 2011 to add to the problems in 2010. We made mistakes, I made mistakes. I am sorry. We have paid for these mistakes. That was then, this is 2012.

“We face the business end of the season with a stronger management team and a stronger playing squad than we had on the opening day.”

“This is not the league campaign we wanted. However, a semi-final tie against Aberdeen on 14 April has the potential to take us to a Scottish Cup final for the first time since 2001. This could yet be the season that all Hibernian supporters talk about for years to come. How can we make it happen? Support the team.

“There are some who want to talk us into looking down not up, even trading failure in the league for success in the cup. Now is the time for clear heads and calm nerves. We can succeed in both.”

Earlier this week, Hibs announced the departure of director Fife Hyland at the end of the season, which has prompted another reshuffle, with executive director Scott Lindsay incorporating responsibility for Hyland’s commercial and communications operations. Lifelong supporter and season ticket holder Brian Houston has been appointed as a non-executive director, in a popular move with the fans who have criticised the club for a lack of genuine Hibs supporters on the board.

Houston said: “Since my debut on the East Terracing in 1954 and my first cup final in 1958 this club has been part of me and I am delighted and honoured to have chance to contribute what I can of my experience to the on-going development of Hibernian.”

Ahead of this week’s home game against Motherwell, the last fixture before the split, manager Fenlon has praised striker Garry O’Connor’s contribution against Inverness Caley on Sunday. He said: “We took Garry out of the equation for the past two or three weeks to get him a little bit fitter.

“He has worked on that himself and we’re hoping that from now until the end of the season he’ll be able to pick up a few goals for us. We’re at the stage of the season where we need him fit and scoring goals. Hopefully he can help us climb the table.”

Thankfully for Fenlon, the injury to winger Ivan Sproule who was carried off against Inverness is not as serious as initially thought.

“The good news is that Ivan’s injury is not as bad as we first feared it might be. He was obviously in a lot of pain when he came off the pitch, but fortunately the injury has responded to treatment and he could be back in training sooner rather than later.”

One player desperate to help the club avoid relegation is club captain Ian Murray, who was delighted to get 60 minutes in a 3-1 victory against St Mirren in a bounce game at East Mains Training Ground on Wednesday. The long term injury victim said “It was my first game since the Hearts match at the start of January and overall I’ve only played two games since November, So I’m happy to be back and I think it went OK. I felt a bit sluggish at times but it went well. I played for an hour and it is a start and a step forward.”

Former Manchester United winger Danny Galbraith also featured in the game which Hibs won with goals from David Wotherspoon, Sean O’Hanlon and Roy O’Donovan.

Hibs take points in five goal thriller

A late Leigh Griffiths’ strike saw Hibs take all three points against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, and move Pat Fenlon’s men six points clear of Dunfermline in the battle against relegation.

Fenlon made four changes to the team that lost to Dundee United last weekend, with skipper James McPake, Richie Towell, Ivan Sproule and Garry O’Connor replacing George Francomb, Jorge Claros, Tom Soares and Roy O’Donovan.

Caley dominated the first half and Graham Stack twice made good saves to deny Shinnie.

Just before the break, Billy McKay beat the offside trap and thought he had scored when he slipped the ball past Stack, only to see it rebound off the post.

Terry Butcher’s men took the lead when Greg Tansey scored a soft penalty after Paul Hanlon was adjudged to have fouled Billy McKay in the box.

Four minutes later, the Scotland under 21 captain made amends for his error with a header from a Griffiths’ corner.

Inverness should have regained the lead when Tade pounced on a deflection and found himself one on one with the keeper, but Stack was able save his close range shot.

After 75 minutes, Garry O’Connor justified his inclusion in the team by putting Fenlon’s men ahead after an excellent run by on loan right back Matt Doherty.

Inverness fought back, and equalised eight minutes later when Stack misjudged a Johnny Hayes cross.

Both clubs pressed for a winner, and with five minutes go, Griffiths held off an Inverness defender before striking a magnificent lest foot shot past the helpless Tuffey from the edge of the box, to the delight of the travelling Hibs fans behind the goals.

Eoin Doyle replaced O’Connor, and the former Sligo Rovers striker cleared off the line in injury time to ensure the three points headed south to Leith.

The victory now leaves Hibs six points clear of Dunfermline who lost 3-0 to Dundee United yesterday, with one game to go before the break. Hibs play Motherwell at Easter Road next week, whilst The Pars entertain Hearts at East End Park.

After the game, a delighted Fenlon said: “”It’s a fantastic three points. We rode our luck at times and Graham Stack has had to make some great saves but I felt we deserved it as we’ve not always had the rub of the green ourselves.

“We seemed a little fearful in the first half and sat back, but we showed what we are capable of as a team in the second half and hopefully now the players will take some belief from that.”

Inverness: Tuffey, Tokley, Golobart, Shinnie, Gillet,Meekings, Hayes, Tansey, Foran, Tade, McKay. Subs Mathieson, Proctor, Piermaya, Tudor Jones,Ross, Sutherland, Winnall

Hibs: Stack, Francomb, Pa Saikou Kujabi, Hanlon, Doherty, Claros, Osbourne, Stevenson, Soares, Griffiths, O’Donovan. Subs Brown, Claros, Soares, Doyle, O’Donovan, O’Hanlon, Francombe

Attendance 3274

More despair for Fenlon as Hibs lose to Dundee United

Hopes that inaccurate media reports would galvanise the players into a winning performance failed to materialise at a misty Easter Road yesterday, as an in-form Dundee United easily swept aside a lacklustre Hibs side, leaving Pat Fenlon’s men only three points above Dunfermline in the fight against relegation.

The former Bohs manager made two changes from the team that lost last week’s derby, with Matt Doherty replacing the injured James McPake and Isaiah Osbourne, returning from suspension, replacing David Wotherspoon. Lewis Stevenson was given the captain’s armband and Leigh Griffiths retained his place despite his involvement in a training ground bust up earlier in the week.

Dundee United started the game strongly and Graham Stack did well to save from Gavin Gunning in the first minute, before Griffiths hit the bar following a George Francomb corner.

Stack was called into action again after 11 minutes with a stunning save from Jon Daly, and Hibs responded when Osbourne went close with a header in an end to end encounter.

As the first half progressed, Hibs took command and good play by Griffiths set up Roy O’Donovan whose effort was saved by Dusan Pernis, before Griffiths went close with a header from an Osbourne cross.

Hibs dominated the rest of the first half and Pat Fenlon was the happier manager at half time.

United started the second brightly and Daly could easily have scored twice in the first three minutes with unchallenged headers in the box, before ex Hibs midfielder John Rankin blazed a shot over the bar from inside the box.

On the hour mark, Ivan Sproule replaced Tom Soares who had been largely ineffectual and Gary O’Connor came on for O’Donovan.

Hibs had an appeal for a penalty when Griffiths looked to have been impeded in the box but referee George Salmond waved play on much to the fury of the Hibs supporters.

Dundee United eventually broke the deadlock after 65 minutes. A John Rankin shot was saved by Stack but Johnny Russell was first to react and slotted the ball into the net.

Daly was replaced by ex Sligo Rovers star Richie Ryan following a head clash with Paul Hanlon which left the big Dubliner requiring stitches, and two minutes later Gary Mackay-Stevens doubled the lead with a low shot from the edge of the box after good work by Russell.

Wotherspoon replaced Claros in an effort to get back in the game but United ran out the clock for a deserved victory.

The news that Dunfermline had gained a point after coming from behind against St Mirren did little to ease the pain of the Hibs fans who showed their dissatisfaction at the final whistle, by booing the team off the pitch.

After the game, a despondent Pat Fenlon said: “In the first half, we played quite well, but we didn’t come out in the second half. We didn’t show enough desire to win the game.”

“We’ve got to realise that we’re in a major scrap. We’ve got to keep working hard, that’s all we can do.

“We thought the last three or four weeks, when we’ve picked up some decent results and we got ourselves into the semi-finals of the cup, it should give people confidence, but when we come here, we seemed to be devoid of that.

“When something goes against us, we lose that belief in ourselves and that’s what we’ve got to change in the players. They’re edgy, there’s nervous, there’s no doubt about that. But here, when we concede the first goal, we lose our shape and we drop back into ourselves and we lose confidence.”

“We’ve performed better on the road. It’s maybe the relief from not playing in front of their own supporters because I know they are edgy as well. I can totally understand that. The club is in a dogfight, so you understand people being frustrated. We knew it was going to be a scrap. We’re here to make sure we stay in the league.

“One thing I never went away from is a fight. We have to make sure everybody else realises that we’re in a scrap.”

Hibs travel to Inverness next week hoping to repeat their victory earlier this season.

Elsewhere, Kilmarnock’s defeat of Motherwell leaves Celtic needing only to avoid defeat at Ibrox today to win the title. SPL chiefs had hoped to avoid the possibility of one half of the old firm winning he league at the home of their bitter rivals, following crowd trouble at Celtic Park on the last occasion this happened.

Hibs: Stack, Francombe, Pa Saikou Kujabi, Hanlon, Doherty, Claros, Osbourne, Stevenson, Soares, Griffiths, O’Donovan. Subs Brown, Wotherspoon, O’Connor, Doyle. Sproule, O’Hanlon, Towell

Dundee United Pernis, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Dixon, Flood, Rankin, Robertson, Mackay-Steven , Daly, Russell. Subs Banks, Kenneth, Douglas, Ryan, Swanson, Armstrong, Dow

Referee George Salmond

Attendance 9161