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‘I rushed into the game’: Hibs’ Martin Boyle lifts lid on that hat-trick against Rangers and watching cup final from dugout

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Hibs' Martin Boyle leads the celebrations at full time after his hat-trick helped down Rangers at Hampden in 2021.

new hires on loan Myziane Maolida and Emiliano Marcondes have significantly improved Hibs’ quality while relieving some of Boyle’s workload.

This front three, in manager Nick Montgomery’s opinion, wouldn’t look out of place in either Old Firm starting lineup. Being a “bit of a Scotty Allan-type,” Marcondes is a welcome addition to the team, and Boyle is happy to have them both on board. Boyle continued, “Scotty was a joy when he was here.” You sense something different about Marceldes. He is a superb athlete with excellent footwork and technical ability. That we have him is a great blessing.”

Had Boyle, who was now almost thirty-one, become weary of being the primary creative force behind the side? He answered, “I have never looked at it that way.” “Whether I play well or poorly, I am always the hardest on myself, but having players of that caliber here can only help me improve even further. They have a characteristic that assures me I will be found if I make those runs. Perhaps Elie (Youan) or I could beat a man, but we now have several players who are capable of doing so and breaking down defenses.”

Just over three years ago, Boyle virtually single-handedly defeated Rangers at Hampden with a lightning-fast hat-trick that had new manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst reading the fine print on his recently signed contract. Boyle had sprung it from the Middle East, where he was competing against China in a World Cup qualification at an impartial location in the United Arab Emirates. He remembered, “It was a speedy turnaround.” “I was experiencing some jet lag when I was in Dubai. I entered the game quickly.

Boyle, left, runs on to the pitch to celebrate Hibs' 2016 Scottish Cup final triumph over Rangers.

“Let’s make it happen,” manager Jack Ross urged to me as we were making light of the fact that I had never scored against Rangers. Next up, we have a 3-0 lead.” And Boyle had netted every goal, including the final one from the penalty spot after he had received the prize himself. Halftime hadn’t even arrived yet.

Is all of this still feeding the minds of Rangers? “Nope, that year they advanced to the Europa League final!” Boyle mentioned.

Surprisingly, their back four that afternoon remain at Ibrox, despite Leon Balogun’s departure and return. Balogun, Borna Barisic, Connor Goldson, and James Tavernier aren’t set to start for the Rangers as their defensive foursome this weekend, but two of them almost certainly will.

The Hibs team that won the Scottish Cup is less intact. These brothers have scattered to many different places and situations. Of the starting eleven, three have retired, one is captain of an English team fighting for a spot in the Champions League, and one is in a central Scottish prison on remand for trial. Do they exchange stories and videos from that historic afternoon in a group WhatsApp chat?

Boyle responds, “Nope.” “The group has dispersed. We often tell the lads about Paul (Hanlon) and Stevo (Lewis Stevenson) being here.

“There’s no finer feeling than hearing Sunshine on Leith,” a handful of the boys in the dressing room said. But doing it will need a lot of work. We require strong backing and support, which we will undoubtedly obtain. I hope that the good times will return.”

One wonders if Boyle feels conflicted about 2016’s Hampden in the sun. With seven minutes remaining and the score tied at 2-2, Boyle felt he could begin unlacing his boots when manager Alan Stubbs brought on a third substitute. After David Gray’s winner, everything went crazy, and Boyle was among the first players on the field at the finish, joined shortly after by several hundred more. He had brushed off his disappointment from a few minutes ago.

“I believe that Paul Hanlon sustained an injury and Niklas Gunnarsson continued, which made it less enjoyable for me,” Boyle said. However, I was content to contribute to a couple of games prior to that. I can say so since I participated in the derby (fifth round replay) and because I helped the team get there by scoring a penalty in the semi-final (against Dundee United). Everyone participated in the team game, which led to the victory.

Had he anticipated being on the Hampden team? He recalled, “I didn’t come off the bench in the play-off loss against Falkirk, so I hadn’t played that game either.” The squad had been accustomed to playing in the 3-5-2 system. At the time, I wasn’t physically prepared to start games and make the squad. I was still quite a young girl.

Boyle is going to outlive all those summertime guys, and Hanlon and Stevenson’s prospects after this season are uncertain. Referring to two severe knee injuries, he said, “The years that I have lost I can gain back.” “I have put a lot of effort into my career to reach this point. I’ll keep going until I’m no longer useful to anyone.

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