Robbie Neilson believes the Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibs is “massive” for Hearts and is now aiming to go a step further and lift the trophy.
The Hearts boss saw his side beat Hibs 2-1 at Hampden to set up a final against Celtic or Rangers.
Ellis Simms gave the Tynecastle side the lead before Stephen Kingsley scored after a clever free kick. Chris Cadden pulled a goal back for Hibs instantly though, and even after Joe Newell was sent off they still pushed hard to get back on level terms.
Hearts defended their lead and saw out the game, leaving their manager to reflect on a satisfying afternoon at the national stadium.
“It’s massive for the club,” Neilson said. “Prior to the game, we spoke to the players about forgetting about getting to the final, you know, forgetting about European football, it’s about winning a derby.
“We won last week the derby and we had about 20 minutes where we could actually enjoy it. Now we’ve got probably four months, five months until our next derby.
So we can enjoy it, enjoy the period. The boys have got a few days off and then we’ve got five games in the league, that we want to win to set us up for a Scottish Cup final,
“It’s been a good season, today makes it a really good one. Can we make it a great one in the final?”
The added reward for Hearts was that reaching the final and knowing they will face a team with a Champions League place next season, Neilson’s side are guaranteed group stage football in Europe. While Hearts will have a shot at qualifying for the Europa League proper, the consolation prize for defeat would be the Conference League group stage and significant prize money for taking part.
Asked how much of a boost that would be to his plans for the team, Neilson said that the plan was long-term and not necessarily a transfer bonanza this summer.
“It will make a difference,” he said. “But you know we’re not going to… we’re guaranteed money but you know we’ve got to be careful how we spend that money.
“We don’t want to chuck it all in, we’ve got to try and build the club gradually over the next three or four years.
“And what this will do is allow us to position ourselves to try and get in next year again, you know, and that’s when we gradually build the club over three, four, five years to get consistent European football and then try to challenge for the title.”