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Stokes fired up for cup final reunion with his ex-Shels team-mate Doyle

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Celtic's Anthony Stokes celebrates scoring the winning goal against Dundee United in the Scottish Cup semi-final. Picture: REUTERS/David Moir

Celtic's Anthony Stokes celebrates scoring the winning goal against Dundee United in the Scottish Cup semi-final. Picture: REUTERS/David Moir

Celtic's Anthony Stokes celebrates scoring the winning goal against Dundee United in the Scottish Cup semi-final. Picture: REUTERS/David Moir

ANTHONY STOKES is looking forward to a schoolboy football reunion with Eoin Doyle when Celtic face Hibs in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden.

Sunday, May 26 promises to be a special day for Cherry Orchard and Shelbourne after their former players Stokes and Doyle played starring roles at Hampden, both coming off the bench to find the net to set up a green -and-white final.

On Saturday, Doyle came on as a half-time substitute as Hibs trailed 3-0 to First Division Falkirk and notched the critical third goal that took the game to extra-time where Leigh Griffiths settled the issue for Pat Fenlon's side.

And yesterday, Stokes was the Celtic hero, heading home the seventh and final goal of the day as Celtic edged past Dundee United in extra-time with another former Cherry Orchard striker, Jon Daly, scoring twice for United.

As kids, Stokes and Doyle played together at Cherry Orchard and Shelbourne, with the Celtic striker pleased to see his old pal enjoying some success.

"I played with Eoin Doyle for six or seven years at Cherry Orchard and then Shelbourne," Stokes revealed. "We go back a long way and I was delighted to see him score for Hibs.

Different

"It was quite a match to watch, Hibs looked like two different teams between the first and second half. They showed a lot of character to come back from 3-0 down to win in extra-time.

"I kept an eye on Eoin when he was playing in the League of Ireland and I'm pleased he's doing well for Hibs.

"It was good to see them reach the final but all I'm interested in now is winning the double for Celtic to complete a great season for the club."

Celtic put their fans' patience to the test at Hampden as they traded goals with Dundee United, with Daly a constant threat to Neil Lennon's beleaguered defence.

Stokes was thrown on in place of Victor Wanyama shortly after Dundee United made it 3-3 and headed home the decisive goal just before the end of the first half of extra-time.

Celtic had lost to Kilmarnock, Hearts and St Mirren in their last three trips to Hampden but Stokes insisted that the players never mentioned a hoodoo, even if many supporters feared the worst as their side shipped three goals.

"We're happy to be in the final, it's not about relief," he insisted. "We took our chances during the game and kept them out when they put us under pressure.

"Everyone has been going on about us and Hampden but we didn't worry about that and went out to play our own game.

"It was difficult for me to pick up the pace of the game when I went on but I felt good in extra-time and was delighted with my goal."

Meanwhile, Doyle fulfilled a promise to Pat Fenlon as soon as he told his boss he had signed for Chesterfield.

Moment

Rather than banish the striker to the sidelines, Fenlon turned to the former Sligo Rovers man in his moment of need with Hibs trailing Falkirk 3-0.

Hundreds of Hibs fans headed for the exits as soon as Falkirk scored their third goal but Fenlon's side pulled off an 'Istanbul-style' turnaround to book a final place against Celtic 12 months after losing 5-1 to capital rivals Hearts at Hampden.

"I told the manager when I was going to Chesterfield that I'd give him 100pc commitment," Doyle explained. "I haven't let him down and I'll keep doing my best for as long as I'm at Hibs. Winning the cup would be brilliant, that's my plan and we're all looking forward to the final.

"At half time we had to sort things out and that happened. We went about it in the right way and that's us in another Scottish Cup Final. Now we want to win the trophy."


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