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Lennon eyes more glory after Celtic double

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27 May 2013 00:17:11

Lennon eyes more glory after Celtic double

Celtic manager Neil Lennon set his sights on more silverware next season after his side sealed their first domestic double since 2007 with a 3-0 defeat of Hibernian in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.

Gary Hooper grabbed a first half brace and Joe Ledley's late strike sealed a record-extending 36th Scottish Cup triumph for Celtic on Sunday.

It completes a superb season for Celtic, who also won a second successive Scottish Premier League and clinched a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Lennon acknowledged his side had been expected to win the title with their usual main challengers Rangers languishing in the Third Division.

But said their impressive European performances, including their first away win in the competition and a defeat of Barcelona, showed his players are capable of sustaining their success.

"We are progressing well now. That's the double and a great European campaign now for a team that gets nipped at a little bit for lack of competitiveness," Lennon said.

"People shouldn't ask questions of this team now. Domestically they are expected to do things but surely no one could have expected what they did in Europe this season.

"People were raising their eyebrows at qualification and when the group came out people raised their eyebrows at that but they overcame it all.

"They've just played the 59th game of a marathon season and we'll be back in June 20 so I hope they enjoy their break as they thoroughly deserve it."

The win means Lennon becomes only the fifth man to have sealed a double as a player and manager in Scottish football.

And Lennon, whose side were huge favourites to win the match against a Hibs side that hasn't won the Scottish Cup since 1902, said the nerves of the occasion had got to him.

"I felt so nervous during the game really because of the weight of expectation riding on the game," Lennon said.

"I don't know why I felt a little bit more nervous than normal. Probably because everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion and football is not like that.

"Hibs had their own huge incentives to win it and the game is so unpredictable that you just don't know what way it is going to go.

"We needed Fraser Forster to make a very good save early on but once we once we got the breakthrough we looked in control.

"The players were excellent. They controlled the game and played with great maturity and scored three very special goals.

"I enjoyed the celebrations. It's a huge relief and I'm absolutely thrilled. To win the double as a player was great but to win it as a manager is just fantastic."

For Hibs boss Pat Fenlon it was a second successive cup final defeat for, but for him there were no similarities to last season's 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Edinburgh rivals Hearts.

"There is no comparison to last year. I thought we contributed to the game and we didn't do that last year," Fenlon said.

"We are bitterly disappointed to lose a cup final but I can't ask any more of the players and the supporters as they were both tremendous.

"Our supporters stayed right to the end and I think they kept the atmosphere going in the stadium. I think they know that during the course of the season that the players have worked tremendously hard.

"There is no comparison to last season with this team. That was a bunch of boys today who worked tremendously hard for their club and got beaten by a better side."


AFP

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