Jack Ross was delighted to see his Hibernian players show the character he knew they had to battle through to the Scottish Cup final with a 2-0 win over Dundee United.
Hibs had lost the delayed 2019-20 Scottish Cup semi-final to Edinburgh rivals Hearts last October and the Betfred Cup semi-final to St Johnstone in January.
However, they were in no mood for a third disappointment at Hampden Park as goals from Kevin Nisbet and Christian Doidge set up a meeting in the May 22 final against either St Mirren or St Johnstone, who play at the national stadium on Sunday.
Manager Ross, whose side are also on course to clinch third place in the Premiership, said: “It is a fantastic feeling.
“I’m really proud of the players and staff, I am delighted for them. They have been terrific for me all season.
“They showed a lot of strength of character to want to come back to here again at this stage of the tournament.
“It was never in doubt for me. Other people will question, but you only get to that stage of tournaments and be where you are in the league if you are a good side.
“It is fine margins in all these games, even today, but we played well.
“The last message to the players today was how much I trust them and they should trust themselves and each other and produce a performance that reflected being in that frame of mind.
“I would have taken any sort of win to get to the final, robbed it or been really poor, but the fact that we played well, controlled the game, scored two really good goals is a really good afternoon.
“It is a happy changing room at the moment.
“We are delighted with what we achieved today, we just need to come back in two weeks and try to replicate that type of performance and have the same feeling.”
Hibs’ last appearance in the final was when they won the cup against Rangers in 2016, their first triumph since 1902.
Ross said: “I don’t often pause to think of it from my own point of view because it is my job, to get the best from the players.
“But this competition is special to me.
“I grew up with it being a big deal. I am football fan, a football lover and I am looking forward to leading Hibs out here.
“I know the history of the club in this tournament.
“Our players have the chance to put themselves into the fabric of the club and we passed another test in that regard today. I am really excited.”
United boss Micky Mellon described as a “shocker” the decision not to flag Doidge offside when he was put through for his goal.
Mellon admitted that Hibs were the better team but said: “That is a shocker. In a game like this, that is an absolute shocker.
“I am glad it’s on TV, everyone can see what you are dealing with sometimes.
“You have to be careful what you say because they get so protected all the time, but that was a poor performance.
“You are not allowed to talk to referees, so they will go away and, I don’t know, pat each other on the back and say we will move on and they don’t have to pay the consequences of decisions like that, like we have to.
“We weren’t playing particularly well, we were trying to fight our way back in, but if you stay in the game at 1-0, you always have that chance, but two gives them a big cushion.
“Over the course of the game Hibs deserved to win
“I feel we didn’t look as streetwise or as used to these kinds of occasions.
“But we will learn and fight hard to get these opportunities again and try to be better.”