By Thomas Mackintosh at Hampden
Celtic under 19’s retained the Scottish Youth Cup for a third year running, after cruising to an 8-0 victory over Queen of the South at Hampden.
Goals from Filip Twardzik, Jackson Irvine, Dylan McGeouch, Callum McGregor and John Herron ensured that the trophy would be heading back to Parkhead.
It is now the first time in the cup's history a side has won three-in-a-row, a testament to the dominance the Hoops hold over Scottish football just now.
Celtic coach John Kennedy was forced into a couple of changes from the side that beat St. Mirren in the semi-finals. Last year’s cup final hero Liam Gormley came in to replace the suspended striker Tony Watt. Dylan McGeouch replaced the injured Paul George (broken leg).
Fresh from their semi-final victory over SPL side Dundee United a week earlier, coach Stuart Rome opted for an unchanged squad which saw them edge the SPL side in a nine-goal thriller at Tannadice.
Celtic took control of the game after only one minute; taking advantage of some sloppy Queen’s defending. Scott Hooper conceded a needless corner after only forty seconds on the clock. Dylan McGeaough whipped in a delivery which saw goalkeeper Atkinson tip a Liam Gormley header onto the bar, only for Filip Twardzik to knock in the rebound from one yard out.
Twardzik was released down the left hand channel; however his inviting cross was too much for Liam Gormley to get on the end of. Gormley again had the next chance, when he met a Darnel Fisher cross from the right; however his glancing header went over the bar.
The most likely threat from Queen’s was going to be their pace, this was evident in their first real chance as winger Sean Handling got in behind the Celtic back four, however his tame shot failed to trouble Lewis Todd in the Celtic goal.
Celtic came close to a second on fourteen minutes, when Jackson Irvine headed just wide from a Dylan McGeaouch free-kick. Then two minutes later Gormley had a shot charged down by the recovering Hooper forcing Celtic’s second corner of the game.
Atkinson was again called into action as the impressive Twardzik found Gormley with a superb through ball; the striker saw his near post shot saved by the Queen’s goalkeeper. A goalmouth scramble followed from the resulting corner, but this time Craig Neill cleared the ball from danger.
Celtic inevitably doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark. McGeough weaved his way through a number of Queen’s challenges, before seeing his shot go behind for a corner. A cleverly worked corner saw captain Jackson Irvine peel away from the crowded box, and the unmarked Australian fired an unstoppable shot into the net, off of the Queen’s bar giving Atkinson no chance.
Unfortunately Filip Twardzik had his night cut short, when he came off worse from a challenge and was forced off with an injury, and was replaced by James Alabi.
Celtic then made the game safe, by scoring two quick fire goals. Firstly, after sustained pressure Celtic scored their third through Dylan McGeouch. The Scottish winger evaded a number of Queen’s challenges before firing low past Atkinson. Then Callum McGregor dispatched a penalty after Fisher was brought down by Sean Wilkinson.
The second half began just as the first ended with Celtic dominating the early proceedings. First McGregor had the chance to grab his second of the night, when he was found unmarked at the far post by a Fisher cross, however the midfielder could only direct his header over the bar and then substitute Alabi had his close range shot charged down.
Queen’s began to create a number of their own chances of their own, firstly winger Dean Smith flashed a shot just wide from the edge of the box, before Lewis Todd saw his looping header well saved by Thomson in the Celtic goal.
Liam Gormley went close to adding a fifth on the hour mark when he met a McGeough cross, only to see his header hit the bar. Moments later McGeouch blazed a shot over the bar from six yards out as Celtic looked to extend their advantage.
Celtic again scored two goals in quick succession, first John Herron made it five, running onto an Irvine through ball and poking the ball beyond Atkinson, then the instrumental McGeouch scored his second of the night on sixty-eight minutes showing composure to dodge an on-coming tackle before firing past Atkinson to make it 6-0.
Callum McGregor scored his second of the game, tapping in for close range after being found by an inviting cross by substitute James Alabi. McGregor completed his hat-rick with five minutes remaining; converting from the penalty spot again after Alabi was brought down.
The last piece of action of the game saw Alabi, who had been looking lively since he came on as a substitute, and he was unlucky not to get his name on the score sheet too, when clean through on goal, he could only divert the ball wide of the Queen’s goal.
Man of the match: Dylan McGeouch
Referee: Brian Colvin