Hibs defender Paul McGinn has branded referee John Beaton ‘inept’ after the Easter Road side were beaten 2-1 by Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden Park.
On a day when the Easter Road side held on to a 1-0 lead for less than a minute, they left Glasgow bemoaning two major turning points.
McGinn was frustrated that Tom Rogic was allowed to take a quick free-kick, leading to Kyogo’s Furuhashi’s 72nd-minute winner, when the Hibs players were expecting a substitution to take place.
Paul McGinn (R) was left frustrated by the performance of referee John Beaton against Celtic
And the Edinburgh side felt Ryan Porteous had been denied a stonewall penalty after being shoved in the box by Carl Starfelt late on.
‘The second goal we are really annoyed about,’ said McGinn. ‘It’s not a foul and, when it is given, the fourth official is holding the board.
‘So we just assumed Jamie Murphy could have stood over the ball as you do; we just assumed it’s a sub.
‘The referee has no control over the situation and just lets it happen – and the goal goes in. You can see me running to him straight away and I get myself booked.
‘It’s inept. Our kitman has handed the board to the fourth official. I’m almost certain that’s the case and we see the numbers so we just assume, Jamie Murphy steps back from stopping (the free-kick) and we all assume.
‘Even 90 seconds later Celtic are going to make a sub and (Anthony) Ralston takes a quick throw-in and he (the referee) whistles it back for the sub to happen. So he kind of knows, I ran to him and asked him what was going on.
‘There is no way we’d have got that the other way. No way, that’s when I got booked.
Hibernian ended up losing 2-1, and felt that they should have had a second half penalty
‘Tom Rogic is an unbelievable football player and there were times where he ran the show. If he turns and drives past a few before playing someone in, then fair enough.
‘It’s not a foul, it’s a sub, but then before you know it he’s so sharp and I couldn’t catch him and then the ball’s in the net.’
On the penalty shout, subject of frenzied appeals during the game, McGinn said: ‘Yes. But it all happens at 100-miles-per-hour so it’s hard for him (the referee) as there’s so much going on.
‘We had a chance right before that so there’s a lot going on and it’s a harder one.
‘The first goal against us was far too simple. He (Furuhashi) is sharp and he’s a killer. He was the difference maker today and has great movement.
‘Celtic had some great attacking moves where they cut us open and we defended really well – but it’s just a simple ball over the top and then scoring at the near post.’
McGinn admitted it had been ‘really tough’ for the Hibs players since manager Jack Ross was sacked less than a fortnight before Sunday’s big game.
The arrival of Shaun Maloney, expected to be confirmed as new manager on Monday, will at least allow the players to move on from an interim spell under stand-in David Gray which ended with Sunday’s defeat.
McGinn praised Kyogo Furuhashi (above), who scored both of Celtic’s goals at Hampden Park
Scottish Cup-winning captain Gray, thrust into a crisis not of his own making, expressed pride in his players for pushing Celtic to the limit.
He said: ‘The way they have handled everything in the last ten days has been a credit to them.
‘After the game I thanked them for all their effort and hard work. They gave myself and Eddie (May, assistant coach) absolutely everything from the moment we took over.
‘The second goal from our point of view is not good enough defensively. The players know that. We will look at that moving forward.
‘But I don’t think they should have been defending a free-kick in the first place. I don’t understand how that is a foul on the halfway line.
‘If that is a foul on the halfway line I have no idea how it is not a penalty in the box late on. I don’t see how one can be a foul and the other one not be. I don’t get it at all.
Hibernian interim boss David Gray was disappointed with key decisions made by the referee
‘I am disappointed with the two decisions that were made, absolutely.’
Gray, who confirmed that he ‘absolutely’ wants to stay at Hibs as part of Maloney’s backroom team, added: ‘It has been a whirlwind in the last nine or ten days.
‘The most important thing for me to take away from it is I am proud of the players.
‘It is never easy in these situations and I think you could see the reaction last week when Jack and (assistant) John Potter lost their jobs. I am very grateful for what they have given me. We will move on and see what happens.’
Goalkeeper Matt Macey admitted: ‘It takes a while for the emotions to settle down after a result like that. Especially when we go ahead and we have it in our grasp.
Hibernian goalkeeper Matt Macey (R) admitted that he felt decisions went against his team
‘There was an awful lot that happened in the second half, things within our control and things out of our control.
‘Some things went our way and some things didn’t. That’s what happens in a final.
‘Big games, key moments, big decisions … we feel a little hard done by, that’s the honest truth.
‘Some big decisions continue to go against us in these big games.
‘But we just have to try and move on from it. There are big moments on the pitch that as players you get punished for.
‘And there are also big moments that aren’t always in your control.’
On the prospect of Maloney’s imminent arrival, Macey said: ‘It looks like it’ll happen tomorrow, from what I’m aware of.
‘But this is a key moment in our season now. We need to turn the page on today and start something new.
‘No doubt we’ll be back here again. We’ve been very good recently at getting to Hampden and we’ll be looking to do that again straight away.’