SHANE DUFFY has experienced the misery and despair that follow playing in a Celtic side that has struggled to match the exalted form of recent seasons.

The Republic of Ireland international captain has seen the club plummet to their first defeat in 36 domestic Cup-ties following the shambolic 2-0 loss to Ross County in the Betfred League Cup at Parkhead last month.

However, Duffy is now on the verge of his first winner’s medal at the club he has supported all of his life with Neil Lennon likely to keep faith with the player who agreed a season-long loan from Brighton in the summer. The holders will take on Hearts in the delayed Scottish Cup Final at Hampden on Sunday when they can win their twelfth successive domestic honour.

And the Derry-born defender could be involved in helping the club achieve immortality by completing the spectacular and unprecedented quadruple treble.

Gaffer Lennon, who has been the target for some abuse in recent weeks, was more than satisfied to see the rugged centre-back head in the champions’ crucial second goal in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock in Glasgow yesterday after Mohamed Elyounoussi had broken the Ayrshire barrier just before the hour mark.

Duffy had been dropped after some ropey displays, but was paired with Christopher Jullien for only the second time as the defence was rejigged yet again with Kristoffer Ajer moving to right-back and Greg Taylor replacing Diego Laxalt on the left.

On the towering Irishman, Lennon, speaking to SKY Sports News, said: “I’m delighted for him. He’s had a lot of criticism since he came here and its probably something he is not used to – the level of it and the volume of it.

“So, we gave him a little bit of time out to try to adapt to things, and he has come back in and done really well.

“The club means a lot to him. He has had a difficult time off the field. This was sort of a fresh start for him and it probably didn’t pan out for him the way he had envisaged.”

But Duffy’s displays in the 3-2 Europa League Group H victory over Lille last week and the success over Killie at the weekend has opened the door for a place in the silverware showdown with the Edinburgh outfit on Sunday.


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