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O'Connell impresses Lennon on debut

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Celtic's Eoghan o'connell. Picture: Jeff Holmes/PA

Celtic's Eoghan o'connell. Picture: Jeff Holmes/PA

Celtic's Eoghan o'connell. Picture: Jeff Holmes/PA

After nine appointments with the substitute bench, Eoghan O'Connell experienced the moment he had been waiting for when he made his Celtic debut against Ross County on Saturday.

The 1-1 draw won't be remembered by many in the weeks to come, but it was a red letter day for the 18-year-old from Cork. On Friday, Neil Lennon told him he'd be starting the match in front of more than 40,000 fans celebrating Celtic's title win.

With dad Damien already in Glasgow for the weekend mum Gillian hastily made the trip from Cork to Dublin for a flight to Glasgow to enjoy an early Mother's Day gift.

As the match kicked-off, O'Connell could hardly have asked to be in better company. Virgil van Dijk, expected to be a target for Manchester City and Manchester United in the summer, had taken on responsibility for ensuring that O'Connell felt perfectly at ease.

The debut didn't quite go to plan, with Melvin de Leeuw putting Ross County in front after 16 minutes before leading scorer Kris Commons equalised 10 minutes before half-time.

There was to be no winning goal in the second half, with O'Connell given a great ovation when he was replaced by Beram Kayal after 73 minutes.

"Eoghan did very well, he grew into the game," Lennon said afterwards. "I felt that, as the game went on, he got better and better, I'm very pleased with his contribution. Liam (Henderson) in only his third start showed great maturity for his age and played really well."

Celtic have six games left before Lennon fully turns his attention to the transfer market and attempting to reach the group stage of the Champions League for the third year running.

Lennon added: "I'll have a look at a few things in the coming games, but I want to see more of vibrancy than we got today. I don't want to overdo it or make too many changes, but I will gauge things with the players and see how they are feeling."

Rather than paint the town red after his first team debut O'Connell attended a charity dinner in Glasgow for the Kano Foundation on Saturday night.


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