JOE HART has admitted the Celtic players are now men on a mission to bring the tenth title in 11 years to Parkhead.
The quest for a phenomenal domestic clean sweep in manager Ange Postecoglou’s first season was derailed at Hampden with the Scottish Cup semi-final extra-time defeat.
It was a sore one to take with the Hoops grabbing the lead in the 64th minute with a rare goal from Greg Taylor, but that was pegged back 12 minutes from time and Carl Starfelt deflected a left-wing cross into his own net for what proved to be the winner six minutes from the end.
HEART TO HART…Ange Postecoglou issues instructions to Joe Hart during a break in play at Hampden.
The 34-year-old 75 times-capped England international keeper had looked calm and composed through a fiesty afternoon at the national stadium and could not be faulted at the two efforts that eluded him.
However, Hart is not dwelling on what-might-have-been as far as the Cup is concerned and is now looking ahead to the remaining five Premiership games which will determine the destination of the crown, restarting after the split in Dingwall on Sunday for the midday kick-off against Ross County.
The shotstopper said: “We’re humble in victory and we will be humble in defeat.
“At the end of the day, we have stuff to play for, we’ve got supporters to show up for, we’ve got a club to represent and just because we have lost this game that won’t change.
“It was a tough game. We had chances to put them away, we didn’t take them and, ultimately, that’s the story of the game.”
FANFARE…Joe Hart with the Celtic support behind his goal.
MY BALL…Joe Hart goes down bravely to save at the feet of Kemar Roofe with Anthony Ralston, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh in attendance.
Hart, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “There’s still plenty to play for. We put on a good show, but not a great showing to win the game.
“Over the course of the season, we still have stuff to fight for and we are looking forward to that fight.
“We just learn from it, it’s as simple as that, there’s nothing more we can do – we can’t take it back or replay the game.
“We are out of the Cup, so we can only learn from it and use it as fuel to go on.
“We’ve got an obvious mission between now and the end of the season and we want to complete that.”
Celtic went into the last-four confrontation on the back of 33 successive unbeaten domestic outings, but the big prize has always been the league championship.
A victory over the Highlanders at the weekend will set up an intriguing meeting with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s club at Parkhead on May 1 where Postecoglou and his players have the opportunity of just about making certain the flag will again be flying in the east end of Glasgow.