The End Of The Cup Run … And For Neil Lennon.

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No-one is quite sure where the phrase “don’t cry because it’s over, be happy it happened” was first written.

It is often said to have come from the writer Dr Seuss (he of the Grinch, the Cat in the hat, etc) although there’s no clear evidence for this.

Others say it is in fact the words of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez.

Wherever those words were initially uttered, they should be emblazoned across Celtic Park tonight.

Celtic’s loss in the League Cup versus Ross County will carry with it other implications.

But the cup run that ended today should never be forgotten.

Today is the first domestic cup game Celtic have lost since 2016 (and then it was Ross County too).

That run has seen Celtic win a Treble Treble, and it could still be a quadruple treble if the club beat Hearts in the next month’s postponed Scottish Cup Final.

Included in this already phenomenal triumph was an Invincibles season, something never before done in Scotland.

Memories of the 1990s are not far away from my mind. My teenage self would surely have not believed that Celtic would be capable of such dominance.

True achievement can only be properly measured once it has reached its conclusion, and so it is with Celtic’s cup dominance.

To win so many games, face so many challenges and continually remain on top is an accomplishment to match most in the club’s history.

It’s vital that today this feeling is not lost, even amongst recriminations about the wider season.

But still, today’s defeat is the culmination of months of decline.

In fact it can be said that the last truly big game in which Celtic played well (not simply won) was away in Lazio a year ago.

In any other football setting – and in any other season – Neil Lennon’s record might see him afforded some leeway.

But this is not another setting or season, this is Celtic on the brink of a never before achieved goal.

It is abundantly clear that the current managerial team do not have what it takes to deliver the Ten.

This is not simply about being unable to withstand the challenge from Ibrox, this is about most clubs in Scotland having no fear about players in green-and-white hoops.

Sadly for Neil Lennon the opening quote (“don’t cry because it’s over, be happy it happened”) can be reversed.

Neil Lennon is a Celtic legend, a player in one of the greatest teams the club has seen. And the manager who started the current nine-in-a-row run.

All of this done in the midst of some terrible events, including serious death threats and attacks, including one on the side of a football pitch.

He has earned the right to be lauded and celebrated at the club, now and in the future.

So hopefully he can still be happy, and without tears in the long run.

Because sadly, it is very much over.

Matthew Marr is a Celtic fan and frequent contributor to this blog. He hail hails from Dundee.

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