Tony Mowbray’s problems as Celtic manager mounted at Dundee United on Sunday when a last minute goal subjected his team to a 2-1 defeat and more boos from the visiting fans.
Rangers, who beat Kilmarnock 3-0 on Saturday, remained clear of the Bhoys on another frustrating afternoon for the Celtic supporters.
Celtic hadn’t lost at Tannadice in 10 years, but midfielder Barry Robson, who scored the opening goal from a 71st minute penalty, was adamant afterwards that the result was not calamitous.
Dubliner Jon Daly then hit an 83rd minute equalizer for United before skipper Darren Dods hit the late, late winner for the home side.
Former Dundee player and current Celtic star Robson said, “Fans pay a lot of money to come and watch us but I think we have put in some decent performances, although maybe not against Falkirk in the last game.
“But Dundee United was always going to be a hard place to go to. When I was at United we almost beat Barcelona, so that’s how hard it is to go there.
“We deserved to get something from the game, maybe even the three points but it is still positive at the club. The boys are all happy and on another day, we could have won two or three nil.
“So it’s not all doom and gloom. We are ready for the next game and we can’t wait to go and win it. You don’t win anything at this stage of the season. We came unstuck but we will keep going.”
Mowbray also tried to take comfort from the performance after another disappointing result for his team.
“I felt there was a huge gulf in quality and class between the two teams and yet they scored from two set-plays,” said Mowbray. “Whether they can continue to score from set-plays, I don’t know.
“I don’t think we got what we deserved from the game but if you don’t defend your set-plays properly, then goals are what the game is about.
“But generally, for about 85 minutes, I think it was one-way traffic. We totally dominated the football match. The first half wasn’t a problem for us. I never felt they could get near our goal.”
Mowbray also claimed he was unconcerned by his team’s failure to go ahead of Rangers again.
“I judge my team on the performance level, and whilst we didn’t get the result, it shows me that for the bigger picture, we should add a little bit of quality here and there this team can go on and be successful for a very long time.”
DUBLINER Gary O’Neill won the Ford FAI Cup for Sporting Fingal with a dramatic late winner against Sligo Rovers on Sunday -- but most of his family were away in the Big Apple as he celebrated a famous win.
O’Neill’s injury time winner capped an incredible week for the First Division side, which clinched promotion to the Premier on Monday night, then won the Cup six days later.
Considering Fingal are just two years in existence, the feat is all the more noteworthy after O’Neill and penalty expert Colm James had cancelled out Eoin Doyle’s 57th minute opener for Rovers.
The American based O’Neills were in Gary’s thoughts as he reflected on one of the most significant goals of his League of Ireland career.
“I swear to God, they will have some jolly-up for the whole week, like myself,” laughed O’Neill in the Fingal dressingroom.
“Me nanny, me grandad, me ma, me dad, friends, my auntie, my uncle ... ah, there’s a good few gone over. It’s been a great few months with the birth of my son and now promotion and the cup final and we will enjoy it.
“It didn’t look when we went behind midway through the second-half but we showed great character and we got there in the end.
“It’s been a long hard season. We got promoted by going the long way about it by winning the two-legged play-off against Bray but we got there in the end as well.
“Winning the cup and getting into Europe is a bonus.”
Fingal manager Liam Buckley was delighted with the win and said, “This is just topping it all off to get a result today. On a personal level I was just chuffed to be in the final. It was great.
“But it is not about me. It is about the players and I am chuffed for them. They have worked hard over the last few weeks.”
CARDIFF City’s Irish midfielder Stephen McPhail has been diagnosed with cancer and is set to undergo three weeks of chemotherapy.
Dublin-born McPhail, now 29, has been told by doctors that he has stage one malt lymphoma but specialists believe he will be fit enough to return to football in January.
LEAGUE of Ireland title winner Pat Fenlon has been named Philips Manager of the Month for October after guiding his club to a second successive championship . . .
FORMER Irish international defender Joe Kinnear is interested in taking over as Scotland manager after his recent spell in charge of Newcastle United . . .
PETERBOROUGH United chairman Darragh MacAnthony has refuted claims that he offered his club’s manager’s job to Bohemians boss Pat Fenlon . . .
IRISH international midfielder Steven Reid has joined QPR on loan in a bid to step up his return to full fitness after a year out with a knee injury . . .
DERRY City manager Stephen Kenny has been linked with the vacant managerial position at Premier Division Dundalk . . .
PREMIER League Burnley are interested in Cork centre-back Kevin Long and St. Pat’s left-back Enda Stevens . . .
SCOTTISH midfielder Ross Chisholm hopes to stay with Shamrock Rovers next season.
HISTORY was made on Saturday when the GAA announced official status for the Gaelic Players Association as their official player representative body.
The GPA will now act as the link between the GAA and their inter-county players in all aspects of the relationship between the two.
Welcoming the announcement, GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell said, “Recognition for the players’ association will provide a platform on which the GAA and the GPA can work together to secure a better future for our games and our players.
“This interim arrangement is the culmination of years of hard work on both sides to establish trust and understanding.
“I would like to thank the many people within the GAA and GPA who contributed to that process to date and the players who strived to have their distinctive voice heard within the GAA.”
GAA President Christy Cooney also welcomed the news and said, “This is an important day for the Association and one that I believe will lead to a brand new working relationship with the GPA, a body that has been in existence for the past 10 years.
“We are confident that we can forge a relationship with our inter-county players that will be for the betterment of the GAA as a whole.
“We have always been committed to our amateur and voluntary ethos and the belief structure that has underpinned the values at the heart of our association.
“With these proposals we have stayed true to these ideals while at the same time coming to a position that recognizes the important role that our inter-county players play in the promotion and commercial well being of the Association.”
The Gaelic Players Association will now receive €1.1 million from the GAA to finance its activities in 2010.
Kerry legend Paidi O Se welcomed the decision and told the Sunday Independent, “There should be much more developed career guidance resources for young players who often nowadays have no jobs or might be struggling with exams. This is a giant step forward.”
WATERFORD star Ken McGrath has confirmed that long term knee injuries could force his retirement from the inter-county scene.
“I’m still not right to be honest, I’m kind of struggling,” McGrath told the Irish Examiner. “I’ve had a nightmare two years, three operations in two years.
“This year especially, I got no hurling done at all really. If it gets right, I’ll look forward to giving it a go in 2010 but if it’s not right, I’ll be struggling again.
“It’s tough on the mind because you don’t know what way you’re going to be. I hopefully might manage the legs a bit better next year and maybe come back a small bit later.”
WEXFORD ace Matty Forde has admitted he could miss the 2010 Leinster football championship as he continues his recovery from recent back surgery.
Forde, who failed to feature for Wexford this year, told the Irish Independent, “I had the operation on a disc and trapped nerve last May and 15 months from then would bring me up to August 2010.
“I would not be able to train properly until then, so my prospects of playing for Wexford next year don’t look very good if the opinions of the medical experts prove to be correct.”
ANTRIM football team boss Liam Bradley has been named as the Quinn Insurance Ulster GAA Writers’ Association’s Personality of the Year.
The Footballer of the Year accolade went to Tyrone’s Kevin Hughes, while Antrim’s Neil McManus was named Hurler of the Year and Donegal’s Michael Murphy received the Young Achiever of the Year award.
Cavan’s World Handball champion Paul Brady claimed the Handballer of the Year award as expected.