By: Mark Henderson on 20 Apr, 2017 23:32
MICHAEL O’Halloran and John McLaughlan were absolutely thrilled at the stylish way Celtic Under-17s swept aside their Rangers counterparts at Firhil tonight to lift the Glasgow Cup for the fourth successive season.
The Bhoys dominated the first half, producing some fantastic, free-flowing football, and they deservedly led through Ewan Henderson’s angled finish.
But they were pegged back just before half-time when Matthew Shiels found the net on a rare foray forward for the Ibrox side.
Having absorbed some pressure early in the second period, the young Hoops rediscovered their rhythm and Jack Aitchison secured them the silverware with a fine run and finish.
Even the late dismissal of Kerr McInroy for a second booking couldn’t deny the young Celts as they comfortably saw out the game, prompting jubilant celebrations as captain Robbie Deas held the historic trophy aloft.
Intermediate Academy Manager, O’Halloran said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic. It’s four in a row in the Glasgow Cup for the club and it’s two-in-a-row for myself and John, and it’s the icing on the cake for what has been a good season so far. There is still a long way to go. We have a league to try and retain as well but to win a cup against your biggest rivals in front of your supporters is absolutely first-class. What a feeling.
“Right from the first whistle, we dominated the game. The opposition are always going to have spells in the game and it’s how you manage and cope with that, and I felt we did that excellently. Ryan Mullen (goalkeeper) was hardly in the game but he had a couple of important saves. We created umpteen chances and we could have been three, four or five up at half-time.
“We had a great reaction from the boys after losing the goal, and then it’s about personality, character and organisation and the boys stuck to their task and were deserved winners in my opinion.
“We created a lot of chances brilliantly, but the two goals were enough for us. They were expertly crafted and really good finishes, and really well deserved.”
Head coach McLaughlan said: “It was a fantastic effort from the boys. In the first half we showed some brilliant combination play on the flanks and cut Rangers open a few times. How it was 1-1 at half-time was beyond belief. A counter-attack caught us out but some of the play in the first half was tremendous, and it was what we had worked on in training all week – quick, sharp combination play.
“The goals were two pieces of real quality from two excellent players. Ewan Henderson was fantastic tonight and we know what we get from Jack. He has that quality in front of goal and as soon he gets in a one-v-one and he twists and turns, there is only one outcome, and he has put it past the goalie before he has even moved – a fantastic goal.
“I knew Rangers would come out fired up in the second half and that was the case. They were at us for 25 minutes and cut us open a couple of times but once we got it settled, got our shape back and got the second goal, there was only going to be one winner. We were unfortunate with Kerr getting sent off but we weathered the storm with 10 men.
“It’s all about winning trophies and progressing as young players and when there is silverware on show, we have to make sure they are up for it and they were up for it tonight. They have brought the trophy back for four years in a row, which is a remarkable achievement, and it’s testament to all the work which is getting done in the Academy.”