A DELIGHTED Jack Ross saluted his Hibernian players after watching his side comfortably dispatch Rangers to tee up a Premier Sports Cup final meeting with Celtic next month.

A first-half Martin Boyle hat-trick sent the men from Leith on their way to a resounding victory at the national stadium, with Scott Arfield’s goal shortly before the interval little more than a consolation.

After not kicking a ball for over three weeks and coming into the showpiece fixture on a run of four straight defeats, a victory for Ross’ men looked unlikely at the outset – but the Hibs head coach insisted each and every one of his players followed their duties to the letter.

“I’m immensely proud,” he beamed. “To deal with the circumstances that we’ve had in the last month and produce that performance against a top team in a tough atmosphere – it was just outstanding.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of the staff and the players. We’ve been questioned recently but we responded brilliantly. We’ve been questioned about big games but we keep getting to big games. We were outstanding today.

“I did mention pre-match that in the games we’ve played against Rangers recently we’ve been good and we’ve been a threat.

“We needed big moments and we got that with the first goal. It was maybe a bit fortunate in the way it breaks to Martin and then we kept carrying that threat.

“The way we defended our box at times was brilliant. Overall, it was one of those days where everything that you prepared for happened in the game but the players went and delivered it.”

Boyle’s goalscoring exploits will grab the headlines after a thrilling first-half display all but put the match beyond Rangers. Ross is in no doubt as to just how important the Australia internationalist has been since he arrived at Easter Road two years ago.

“He’s incredible,” Ross added. “He’s maybe felt in the past that in these occasions at this stadium he’s maybe not been at his best.

“I was chatting to him yesterday and he said the only team he’s not scored against is Rangers prior to today. He felt it was the right time – he maybe didn’t expect it in the manner that it happened.

“He’s an outstanding player and I’m lucky to have him. He has been a big asset to me in my two years here and I’m delighted for him personally.”

Having lost out to Hearts in the delayed 2020 Scottish Cup semi-final, Livingston in last season’s League Cup semi-final and St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup final last term, Ross fielded a few questions in the build-up to the Rangers clash with significant questions hanging over his team’s mentality. The 45-year-old insists those doubts have been answered emphatically.

“It shows the players’ resilience but it also shows a trust in what we do,” Ross said of the comprehensive victory.

“When you lose four games having had a good period of consistent success and you’re asked questions about big-game mentality – maybe unfairly at times – you’ve got to trust in the process and how we work.

“I think the players do that and they trust each other. We used the time productively and we felt like we were coming into the game in a good place, although you never know when the match starts.

“The trust is the biggest thing and long may that continue.”