Saturday 25 March 2017

Templeton questions Lennon pre-match comments

Matt McGeehan

Hearts winger David Templeton today joined those condemning the breach of security that enabled a supporter to reach Neil Lennon, but suggested the Celtic manager's pre-match comments may have contributed to the intensity of the atmosphere at Tynecastle.

Lennon was approached by a fan after Gary Hooper's second-half goal in Celtic's 3-0 win kept Celtic's Clydesdale Bank Premier League title dream alive until the final day of the season.



A man is due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today in connection with the incident and investigations have been launched by police, footballing authorities and Hearts.



Hearts manager Jim Jefferies said he felt there was "hostility" in the ground last night.



And Templeton, while joining Jefferies in his criticism of the incident, said Lennon's comments in reference to Hearts' 4-0 loss at Rangers last Saturday may have had an impact on the atmosphere at the match.



Templeton, who did not play last night due to a hamstring injury, said: "I think what had happened previously in the papers, about lying down, added to it (the atmosphere)."



The Celtic boss had referred to Rangers' 5-0 win over Motherwell the week before they cruised past Hearts, when he said: "What we are looking for is somebody to compete and give Rangers a game. There has not been much evidence of that in their previous two games."



Jefferies described the comments as "disrespectful", while Lennon said he was "misinterpreted".



Irrespective of the comments, Templeton joined the condemnation of the incident which overshadowed Celtic's win in Edinburgh.



Templeton, who was a Celtic fan as a boy growing up in Glasgow, added: "It was really bad what happened with Neil Lennon.



"When stuff like that happens it's not nice to see and you don't want that happening at football.



"With it (the crowd) being so close there are times when someone might get a chance to get on, but hopefully that will never happen again.



"I'm sure the club did everything they could to try to prevent that happening."



Hearts secured third place in the SPL as a result of Dundee United's loss at Rangers on Tuesday night and Templeton is now looking forward to Europa League qualification matches in July, with his season at a premature end due to the hamstring problem which forced him off at Ibrox.



He added: "I've just to rest now until next season and make sure I don't make it any worse.



"I'm just hoping to get a good pre-season and be hoping to be involved in that (European) game."

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