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McGinn is eager to get the better of his old mentor Lennon

Hibernian v Aberdeen, Scottish Cup semi-final: Hampden Park, Saturday, 12.15pm

By Julian Taylor

It's a big day at Hampden Park for two of Northern Ireland's most high-profile competitors - and all with a splash of added spice.

Aberdeen take on Hibernian in this afternoon's Scottish Cup semi-final, with Niall McGinn aiming to sabotage Neil Lennon, the boss who marginalised him at Celtic.

Hibs boss Lennon allowed McGinn to move from Parkhead to the Dons five years ago. Disappointed Celtic fan McGinn didn't make the grade with his boyhood club - but he was a perfect fit at Pittodrie, flourishing under Craig Brown and, more recently, Derek McInnes.

Aberdeen have danger men in Jonny Hayes and Adam Rooney in attack. Northern Ireland international McGinn, however, is their most experienced figure for the big occasion.

"I was with Lenny for a few years at Celtic," said McGinn.

"Lenny was always 100 per cent with me, he would have encouraged me when I wasn't in the team.

"Any time the opportunity came, I played quite a bit under Lenny. Then there came a stage in the last six months when I didn't play.

"I knew my career was going elsewhere. I wouldn't change it for the world though. Things have gone great for me.

"Lenny will bring heart and determination to Hibs. But he will also know he is coming up against a good side in Aberdeen."

Aberdeen are hot favourites for a final berth to face either Rangers or Celtic, and it is 25 years since the Scottish Cup last took pride of place at Pittodrie.

Lennon, meanwhile, would love to help his side retain the trophy, won so dramatically against Rangers in a 3-2 Hampden victory, the Hibees' first Cup success since 1902.

Alan Stubbs guided the Edinburgh outfit to the silverware, but Lurgan native Lennon's hunger for success with Hibs - who will have 20,000 supporters attending today's showdown - remains.

As a bonus, Lennon has escaped a touchline ban, following a recent spectacular clash with Morton manager Jim Duffy.

"To be in the semi-final with this club is fantastic," said the Hibernian boss.

"The players can focus on the game but we've done what we set out to do and that was to win the Championship.

"Obviously we'll be determined to go out and defend the trophy and there is no question the club, the players and fans are all the better for having won it last season.

"I didn't realise how big it (the Cup win) was and what it meant to the Hibs support until I came here.

"The players have produced some big performances in the Cup this season and I'd like to bring that again."

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