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‘MUD-SLINGING’: CELTIC No.2 HITS BACK

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CELTIC No.2 John Kennedy has shrugged off the “tainted and hollow” title claims of former Rangers defender Gareth McAuley, as Scotzine reported.

The 80 times-capped Northern Ireland centre-half, who played eight time for the Ibrox side after joining from West Brom in 2018, had a swipe at the Hoops’ nine-in-a-row achievement.

The SPFL hierarchy awarded the Parkhead club the championship last week when they brought down the curtain early on the Premiership campaign with Neil Lennon’s men on top of the table with a 13-point lead with only eight games to go.

But McAuley, who has retired from playing at the age of 40, slammed the decision in a tirade against Scotland’s title kings.

But Kennedy said the ex-player was simply playing to the Ibrox gallery.

The Hoops assistant gaffer, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “We don’t care what he says – the reality is the trophy’s sitting at Celtic Park.

“I don’t let what anyone says bother me. Ultimately, the ones who come out and say that kind of thing are Rangers-minded or are the opposition.

“The most important thing for us is we know what we’ve achieved is very legitimate. It’s very worthy. I know how much work and effort goes into this.

“Had the shoe been on the other foot, would Gareth McAuley be saying there’s an asterisk against Rangers’ title if they had been leading? Certainly not.

“The people who say this are the people you expect to say it. The season was cut short amid unprecedented circumstances. Nobody could do anything about it.

“But we were going to win the title regardless. It’s one we’ll savour. It’s part of our history now.

“Regardless of what anyone else thinks, there certainly won’t be an asterisk beside our title. It’s 100 per cent deserved.

“For someone to come out randomly and say what Gareth McAuley has? I don’t care.

“I think there’s an element of saying what your support wants to hear. But they can try and lift their support as much as they want and they can say what they like.

“We’re nine-in-a-row champions and we’ve got the trophy. Again.

“We know the world we live in. Emotionally, things can get wound up easily.”

Kennedy, 36, added: “He’s from a Rangers background and he’s been asked his opinion. But the reality is it’s not going to affect us.

“We decide what’s worthy of listening to. But all talk of asterisks and a title being devalued, it doesn’t matter to us.

“We’re very aware of the mud-slinging and people trying to put you off track. But we’re set on how we do things.

“We block out the noise. We keep things in-house.

“I think there’s every chance we would have extended our lead at the top. The form we were in we were always going to win the league.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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