Celtic defender Lee O'Connor suffers playoff heartache with Tranmere

By David Walton

May 23, 2021

Celtic youngster Lee O’Connor suffered League Two playoff defeat with Tranmere Rovers this afternoon.

O’Connor, who spent the campaign on loan with Rovers, was part of the side that went down 3-2 on aggregate to Morecambe live on Sky Sports today. The result means his season ends at the semi-final stage, with Morecambe heading to Wembley for the final.

The Republic of Ireland under-21 international was hardly the worst performer, but came off at half-time as Tranmere desperately threw caution to the wind.

Tranmere came into the clash 1-0 down after losing the first-leg clash at home. But after winning at Morcambe earlier in the campaign, confidence appeared high. Unfortunately for O’Connor, however, the game-plan was clearly to try and get down the left as often as possible.

The Celtic man often went through large parts of the opening 45 without seeing the ball. However, when Rovers did work it down the right, he managed to put in a couple of crosses as he showed some good intent.

Lee O’Connor wraps up Tranmere Rovers spell with heartbreak

An early goal for Morcambe didn’t help matters for O’Connor’s side. Rovers needed three in the second 45 to secure victory, so naturally looked to take a defender off and go for it. O’Connor was simply unfortunate to be the man hooked.

It didn’t exactly spur Rovers on either. Indeed, they managed to pull one back from a scrappy corner with just over 35 minutes remaining. Outside of that, they lost any threat they had down the right when Lee came off.

O’Connor, therefore, signs off with a gutting playoff defeat. But that doesn’t mean it’s been a failure of a loan spell – far from it in fact. O’Connor’s appearance today marks his 42nd outing of the campaign [Transfermarkt]. With numbers like that, he’s had a more productive campaign with Tranmere than he ever would’ve had at Celtic Park.

Lee O’Connor in action for Tranmere against Morecambe (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

And it sets him up nicely for a summer return to Glasgow. Since signing from Manchester United in 2019, he’s had experienced internationals ahead of him at right-back. That won’t be the case when he returns for pre-season.

Celtic undoubtedly have some work to do on the position after losing Jeremie Frimpong and Hatem Elhamed in 2021. With Jonjoe Kenny thankfully heading back to Everton after his loan spell expired, we have no out-and-out right-back outside of the tried and failed Anthony Ralston.

What that means is that there’s an opportunity there for O’Connor to impress the new manager. Especially before he decides to bring players into the position. It’s a massive pre-season for the Irishman. Fingers crossed he manages to take his chance after a year of strong development with Tranmere.

In other news, the Celtic fans didn’t seem too happy with the latest Olivier Ntcham rumour.