SHAUN Maloney tonight praised the fight and desire of his Hibernian team after they earned a draw against Hearts in his first Edinburgh derby as Easter Road manager.
Maloney handed Kevin Dabrowski his debut after Matt Macey was ruled out by injury before kick-off and the Polish keeper produced a Man of the Match-winning display.
The former Belgium assistant was delighted with the 23-year-old’s prformance between the sticks in Leith.
But he felt every one of his players responded well to the painful home defeat they suffered in the cinch Premiership at the hands of Livingston on Saturday.
“I’m always quite positive,” he said. “You always want a little bit more as a coach, but in terms of the overall performance we showed something that maybe we haven’t under me. That real fight and desire.
“I love certain tactical ideas and everything like that, but what I saw tonight I loved as well. I love competing. I loved what my players showed me – a real desire not to lose and then to try and win the game. So I loved the performance.”
Maloney added: “The game came too soon (for Macey). It was when we conceded the first goal against Livingston. Just a really, really bad dead leg and the swelling was just too much. The game was too quick.
“Kevin’s performance was outstanding. The way he played tonight is how he’s been training, but to replicate that in the biggest game of our season is just a huge credit to him. He can be really pleased with how he performed, enjoy the night and get back to it tomorrow.’
“Football’s a strange thing. When injuries happen like that, and there is a performance like that. The only thing I can say about Kevin is that he was just incredible, but we get back at it and get ready for the weekend.”
Asked about the two penalty claims that Hearts had, Maloney said: “At the time, I didn’t think so. I haven’t seen them again. Live, I didn’t think so, but I’ll have to watch them again.”