Lennon absense is “totally understandable”

Finn Harps chairman Joey O’Leary has said the failure of Celtic boss Neil Lennon to attend Sunday’s friendly against them was “disappointing but fully understandable”.

Finn Harps chairman Joey O’Leary has said the failure of Celtic boss Neil Lennon to attend Sunday’s friendly against them was “disappointing but fully understandable”.

O’Leary said they were hoping Sunday’s fixture with Celtic would have attracted a slightly larger crowd but with the weekend’s events behind them their main focus is back on League of Ireland football as they travel to Athlone this Saturday night.

Speaking of the Celtic manager’s no-show, O’Leary stated: “It was late Friday evening when they made the decision he wouldn’t travel and there was a bit of disappointment alright but fully understandable under the circumstances.

“The plans were made initially for the game back in November but due to the severe cold snap it was rescheduled for last weekend and with the events in Scotland during the week it was understandable he couldn’t travel.

“I wouldn’t say it affected the turn-out hugely but it would have had a certain impact. Obviously he is a big name and doing well in his first managerial job and he has Celtic playing great football. It was unfortunate but the weather was good and the pitch was in good condition but I don’t think it took too much away from the day.”

O’Leary says although the late news of the Celtic bosses absence did not significantly affect the numbers, but other factors, including a high profile televised clash with English Premiership sides Liverpool and Manchester United, would have played a role and they would have like to saw a few more through the gates at Finn Park.

“The impact of the big premier game on TV possibly had as big an impact. That’s the unfortunate thing we battle here. Football is so accessible on the TV it is easier for people to sit and watch than go out and watch football.”

There were also two highly successful dinner dance events over the weekend, one hosted by the Twin Towns Celtic supporters club and one in honour of former Celtic player John Kennedy in Bunbeg in which it was hoped the Celtic boss may still have attended but this was not to be the case.

Thirty--nine-year-old Lennon remained in Scotland on security grounds after police continue to investigate threats made against the Armagh mans life during the week.

O’Leary said one of the most important things for his team was to come through the Celtic clash, which they lost 4-1, injury free as the players also had a highly competitive match against Limerick FC on Friday night, which ended in a 2-2 draw.