Jonny Hayes is still ruing the Glasgow derby defeat to Rangers almost two weeks ago at Ibrox.
Celtic produced by far the most sluggish, lazy, and pathetic performance of the season in Govan. Embarrassingly, Celtic couldn’t lay a glove on their rivals, and were bossed for 90 minutes. It’s difficult to remember many moments where Rangers goalkeeper Wes Foderingham actually had to get off his deckchair and do some work.
It was a colossal chance on the day for Hayes too. Deputising for Kieran Tierney, it was his first start at Ibrox for Celtic. He did, of course, play the first half of the 2-1 win over Rangers back in March. But at the same time, this was by far a more difficult outing.
And speaking in the Celtic View (Volume 54, Issue 43, Page 19), Hayes won’t in no mood to dismiss it as meaningless.
“I’m gutted to lose any game, and regardless of us having already won the league title and how that affects the circumstances of the game, there’s still a lot of pride at stake.
“People have called it a meaningless game. It wasn’t meaningless for me, and it wasn’t meaningless for the team. We didn’t perform on the day, and we’ve got to take it on the chin. We now look forward to the next fixture when it comes around again.
“I come from a working-class background in Ireland, and I know there are plenty of people who use their money to fly over for those games. There are people all over Scotland and beyond doing the same, and tickets are not cheap. To go there and not perform is never not disappointing.”
Nail on the head from our Hayes
Spot on Jonny. Nobody could put it better. Supporters, regardless of the circumstance and regardless of the league table, want to win this fixture. It means so much to most, and just because a league is won doesn’t make it much less painful when we lose it.
The sheer passion that this fixture brings remains unrivaled. Failing to get one over on Rangers to deprive them of hope heading into next season was a slight blow. Not a big blow, but a slight one. Celtic are still in the ascendancy in Scotland, and it’s in our hands to stay that way.
Hayes is clearly itching to go back to Ibrox at the start of next season. The fixtures haven’t been released, but going by the usual order of things, Celtic should be heading back to Govan early next term. Will we even be favourites for it? Who knows, it all depends on how both sides start the season, but we’ve been shocking away to Rangers all season.
This Celtic team’s mentality has never been in question. They bounced back from their first defeat to Rangers this campaign with a 12-game domestic winning run. This time, we could follow it up with the treble treble.
Fans will also recognise that, on any given day, we can lose to Rangers. They’re a decent side, and regardless of what you think of them, they have players that have proven they can hurt us this year. But it’s the manner of it, and the sheer frailty of the team in failing to even muster anything that resembled a bit of fight two weeks ago.
It’s on the backburner for now. Hearts at Hampden on Saturday takes sole focus. But come next season, we owe them one, and Hayes seems to understand that as much as anyone.