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The curse of Keane

The curse of the Keane's returned to haunt Celtic last night as Robbie suffered an embarrassing defeat on his Hoops debut, just as Roy did four years ago at Clyde.

Last night's 1-0 defeat at Kilmarnock hammered another nail into the coffin of Celtic's SPL title hopes despite the euphoria that followed the signing of Keane on loan from Spurs.

The similarities with the 2-1 Scottish Cup defeat to Clyde that marked Roy Keane's Celtic debut weren't too hard to find as a new-look Celtic side struggled badly against well-organised opponents on a frosty pitch in south-west Scotland.

Kilmarnock midfielder Craig Bryson managed to complete a unique double having scored for Clyde four years ago, although last night it was on-loan Aberdeen forward Chris Maguire who stole the glory.

Celtic now trail Rangers by 10 points as the countdown to a trip to Ibrox on February 28 begins, although Hibernian, two points behind Tony Mowbray's side with a game in hand, could well have their thoughts on finishing above Celtic.

Keane went straight into the Celtic side in place of Georgios Samaras but could only despair as home keeper Cammy Bell collected the man of the match award with a double save from Keane in the 38th minute, followed up by a crucial block with three minutes left to play.

The arrival of Keane added 2,000 Celtic fans onto the gate at Rugby Park, but despite his star billing there was no magic touch to take the pressure off Mowbray.

"Robbie did well, he brought a different dimension to our team," the Celtic boss said.

"He made the team tick by the positions that he took on the pitch. He's a very intelligent player, you don't need me to tell you that, I'm sure that he'll be a huge benefit as we move on.

"We created chances in some decent areas but never took them. You have to take it on the chin and try to look forward to the weekend.





TWISTS

"There's a long way to go in the season, I'm sure that there will be some twists and turns and we have to try to take the next three points when they come.

"We're trying to build this club to the point where we can complete successfully both domestically and in Europe, this is the process that we're going through."

The process, as Mowbray put it, is becoming increasingly painful for the Celtic support, who have watched their side fail to win in 10 out of 23 SPL matches this season.

Mowbray's long-term vision for the club certainly paints an appealing picture but, in the battle against a Rangers side that hasn't been able to spend a penny on players since August 2008, patience is wearing thin.

Celtic did start last night's match brightly, with Keane linking well with midfielder Ki Sung Yeung, but there was a general lack of understanding and direction throughout the team.

When Andreas Hinkel went off injured on the half-hour mark it left Aiden McGeady and Landry N'Guemo as the only out-field regulars against a well-drilled Kilmarnock side battling for their SPL survival.

McGeady's form has taken a dip over the past few weeks, with his frustrations boiling over when he was yellow carded shortly after Maguire's goal.

Mowbray has to lift his side for Sunday's Scottish Cup trip to Dunfermline without injured defenders Hinkel and Jos Hooiveld, which should allow Darren O'Dea to return to the team.

The Dunfermline match falls a day short of the 10th anniversary of Celtic's 3-1 defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup.

John Barnes' managerial career came to a dramatic end following that defeat, a repeat at Dunfermline on Sunday would be catastrophic for the current Celtic boss.


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