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14 May 1998 Edition

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Sportsview: Top o' the world Ma!

Finally after a decade of successive failures to lure the premier title to Parkhead the long wait is over. After a dreadful start to the season the new team and managerial set-up came good. Wim Jansen undoubtedly the main mover behind the team's success.

Celebrations were soon followed by the news on Monday that Wim quit the club, one year into a three-year contract. More later.

To the game itself, and a dream start was ensured by Swedish international Henrik Larsson's early strike after only two-and-a-half-minutes. After that it looked like it was going to be plain sailing but UEFA Cup place chasing St Johnstone refused to die and go along with the script, keeping the Celts at bay until Norwegian Brattbaak sealed the title in the 72th minute: Ten-in-a-row stopped, forces of darkness repelled, good has overcome evil, cue for wild scenes at Celtic Park, Bye, Bye Rangers..., Hail, Hail..., Low Lie the Fields... and You'll Never Drink Alone!

Rangers might have equalled the record, but they did it second, despite spending millions, and didn't come within a sniff of European glory.

After all the celebrations came the news everybody was expecting. Wim `The Tim' Jansen said he was going. It was announced first to the Stock Exchange (a sign of the times). Celtic fans at this stage are obviously furious. Jansen admitted to having difficulties with the general manager Jock Brown (a man, to put it mildly, who would not be the most popular with fans). Problems also existed about the Board's reluctance to release money for buying players.

Celtic bosses Fergus McCann and Jock Brown must be the hardest men to deal with anywhere in football. Their record speaks for itself. After last season's debacle surrounding Cadette, Van Hoojdoink and Di Canio, how long can fans put up with constant upheavals? As the banner at Celtic Park proclaimed last Saturday: ``Wim Jansen - a Celtic legend. Who's Jock Brown?''

With the Champions League beckoning, Celtic will have to spend big in the coming months if any serious campaign is to be mounted. A new manager is again going to mean major unheavals. And judging by McCann's record, it is doubtful that we will see the big spending required.

FAI Cup Final


The showpiece of the Irish domestic soccer season was a bit of a let down. Most occasions when Irish domestic soccer gets a chance to show itself off to the football watching public it shoots itself in the foot. The FAI Cup Final proved to be a dour, boring ragged affair at a Dalymount Park in a terrible condition - both playing and spectator facilities.

A 0-0 draw was the result, with Cork City and Shelbourne having to battle it out in a replay at the same venue next Saturday night. Previous games between the two sides this season have produced no less than 14 goals, so an improved performance could hopefully be on the cards.

Congratulations to the Irish under-16 soccer team on winning Ireland's first ever major trophy at international level. Brian Kerr is again the man of the moment after guiding the team to a win over Italy in the UEFA Youth's Championship Final at Perth in Scotland on Friday night.

Now, with the soccer season `over', we can now look forward to the World Cup!

BY CIARAN HEAPHEY

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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