MATT O’RILEY is on the brink of playing his part in Celtic’s world record eighth treble.
The 22-year-old midfielder was performing in the English third tier just 16 months ago before his bargain £1.5million switch from MK Dons and is now in line to face Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday.
Success over the Championship outfit at Hampden will seal the Hoops’ phenomenal fifth clean sweep in seven years.
The Parkhead club’s sequence of domestic dominance will take them one ahead of their Ibrox rivals provided they do not slip up against Billy Dodds’ Highlanders.
THREE CHEERS – AT THE DOUBLE…Matt O’Riley celebrates this season’s League Cup win with Filipe Jota and Carl Starfelt (top) and Alistair Johnston and Liel Abada.
The Govan club last enjoyed a clean sweep of all three honours on offer on the home front two decades ago while Celtic have rampaged through the silverware trail in recent times.
It’s over two years since the Hoops last achieved the feat following the Covid-delayed Scottish Cup Final penalty-kick win over Hearts at a deserted national stadium in December 2020.
Now Ange Postecoglou and his players are closing in on the history books and stylish playmaker O’Riley said: “It’s definitely exciting, but in the end it comes down to us performing well for 90 minutes on the pitch, potentially 120 if it goes to extra-time.
“It’s definitely a process, but if we’re able to do it, of course it’ll be amazing. It comes down to performing well individually and as a team, and by doing that you put yourself in a position to write history and win trophies.
“You can’t think too far ahead about your legacy at the club, it’s probably not the best way to look at it. It’s more of an everyday process of trying to improve as a footballer, first and foremost.
“That gives you the best chance to put yourself in a position to do that.”
SHOVE OFF…Matt O’Riley and John Lunstram tussle for possession in Celtic’s 1-0 Scottish Cup semi-final victory at Hampden.
The Scottish Cup was the one domestic trophy that eluded Postecoglou on his debut crusade as Neil Lennon’s successor when the Hoops toppled six minutes from the end of extra-time in the semi-final when the unfortunate Carl Starfelt deflected a left-wing cross past Joe Hart for the Ibrox opposition’s winner.
Asked if success will be even sweeter after getting so close last time out, O’Riley, speaking to The Scotsman, answered: “I could probably give you a better answer if we do win it!
“I’d have to be in that position to really soak it in and what it means. We haven’t played the game yet, or won it. Thinking about it is nice, but until the job is done I can’t really give a good answer.”
O’Riley added: “I’m certainly aware of the demand. First and foremost, it comes from being expected to win every game and if you do win every game, you put yourself in a good position to do that.
“Taking that mindset into the week, training games, and taking it onto the pitch is the most important thing so that you are naturally in that habit of winning, and also expecting to win.
“It has definitely made me a better player. It makes you adapt to the pressure of football.
“For a young player, especially, this is a club with a lot of demands.
“Having the experience of being involved in this sort of environment so young is really important and can only really put you in a good place.”