Lennon: Double-winners owed respect

27 May 2013 09:17

Celtic manager Neil Lennon hopes his players are finally given the respect he feels they deserve after clinching the domestic double by winning the William Hill Scottish Cup after beating Hibernian 3-0 at Hampden Park.

A double from Gary Hooper and a Joe Ledley strike saw the Hoops come out on top against Hibernian and add another piece of silverware to their Clydesdale Bank Premier League title.

The Celtic boss believes a double and a better-than-expected European run means no-one can ask any questions of his players. He said: "That's the double and we had a great European campaign. For a team that gets nipped at a little bit, they are a great side and I hope they get the respect they deserve tonight."

Lennon added: "People shouldn't be asking questions. Okay, domestically we are expected to do things but surely no-one could have expected what we did in Europe this season. People were raising their eyebrows at the qualification stage. Then, when the group stage came out, people were raising their eyebrows at that.

"We overcame it all. They were playing the 59th game of a marathon season. The majority of them will be back in on June 20 so I hope they enjoy their break because they thoroughly deserve it."

Hibs had plenty of incentives of their own for coming out on top at the national stadium. They were looking to make amends for last year's final, when they suffered a crushing 5-1 defeat to Edinburgh rivals Hearts, as well as finally ending a 111-year wait for the trophy.

With so much at stake for both sides, Lennon admits nerves were a major factor. He said: "It feels amazing. I felt so nervous this morning and all the way through the game really. It was just the weight of expectation riding on the game. We didn't want to be the team who broke the hoodoo for Hibs as well and have that thrown at us."

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon was disappointed to lose a Scottish Cup final for a second year running but felt this defeat was nothing like last year's drubbing by their derby rivals.

He said: "There is no comparison. I thought we contributed to the game and we didn't do that last year. I can't fault the players for their effort. We are bitterly disappointed that we lost a cup final but I can't ask any more of the players and the supporters today. They were tremendous.

"We are disappointed but we lost to the better side and there is no shame in losing to Celtic."

Source: PA