Scottish Cup final: James Keatings eyes redemption for Hibs

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Hibs' James Keatings with the Scottish Cup
Hibs lost to Falkirk on Friday despite two James Keatings goals
Scottish Cup final: Rangers v Hibernian
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday 21 May Kick-off: 15:00
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website

James Keatings says he woke up the day after the worst night of his career with fresh determination to end the season as a Hibernian hero.

The striker's two goals on Friday were not enough to prevent Falkirk progressing to the play-off final.

But Hibs have the chance on Saturday, against Rangers, to end their 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup.

"I've got one more chance now to make all these fans and everyone associated with the club very happy," he said.

"We are lucky. Obviously that could have been the last game of the season and had all summer to think about that game.

"Whereas we have one more game to make it right. We can go to Hampden and become heroes by winning that cup."

Losing to Falkirk means Hibs, who also lost the League Cup final to Ross County, miss out on promotion for the second season running.

James Keatings (left) celebrates with Hearts
James Keatings (left) helped Hearts win the Championship last season

"It was the worst of my career so far," said 24-year-old Keatings. "That third goal that went in for Falkirk just took the wind away from us.

"Myself personally, I felt totally gutted, totally deflated. I sat on the bench and watched them celebrating.

"That night, I sat up until four o'clock in the morning going over the game in my head. It was just frying my brain."

However, family time left Keatings refreshed and raring to put things right against a Rangers team who beat Hibs to the Championship title.

"We have won the two at home and they have won their two and they won the Petrofac Training Cup game at the start of the season," he said.

"We know how to play against them, we know they are a good team and respect them, but hopefully we can put our game-plan together and do it as a team."

The defeat by Falkirk also denied Keatings the rare accolade of helping three teams to promotion from the Championship in consecutive seasons.

James Keatings (right) in action for Hamilton against Hibs
James Keatings (right) helped Hamilton relegate Hibs two seasons ago

Two seasons ago, he helped Hamilton Academical relegate Hibs by defeating them in the play-off then last season he was wearing the maroon of Hearts as they beat his present club, their city rivals, and Rangers to the Championship title.

"If you look back at Hamilton, I never thought I would end up two years on at Hibs and still trying to get out of the Championship," said Keatings.

"I knew I was going to get a lot of stick for joining Hearts' city rivals. I was warned about it, but at that point I was talking to a few clubs and it was about doing what was best for me.

"It was a surprise to leave Hearts as I had a good season there and scored a few goals and gave my all.

"It was a mutual agreement because I was not going to feature as much as I wanted and I thought it was best for my career.

"It was my time to move on and, when I spoke to the manager here, it was a great opportunity for me - and, 12 months on, I am looking forward to a cup final."

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