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I played golf yesterday, it was a shotgun start .. I almost s*** myself; SCOTTISH CUP FINAL: TODAY, HAMPDEN, 3PM SCOTTISH CUP FINAL: TODAY, HAMPDEN, 3PM LIVE ON BBC1 & SKY SPORTS 2 SAYS NEIL LENNON.

Byline: HUGH KEEVINS

NEIL LENNON might just have revealed what makes him tick by admitting he'll be sorry to see the season end today.

Anybody else who'd endured the bombs, the bullets and the bampots would have treated the final whistle this afternoon like a lottery win and gleefully headed for the sun.

The Celtic manager was making jokes about his status as the target for DIY bomb makers and the fact he gets live ammunition through the post the way other people get junk mail.

He said: "We were playing golf yesterday and it was a shotgun start. I almost s**t myself."

Maybe Lennon has decided that if you don't laugh you'll only end up crying. Or, and this looks the better bet, he's perfectly happy being in the middle of this season's swirling madness.

Because he admitted the close season is something to be wary of rather than respite from random attacks on his person.

Today he'll lead out his team at Hampden for the Scottish Cup Final's pre-match rituals and the temptation will be to look and see if he's flanked by minders for his own protection.

But the manager couldn't have been more explicit about his love of his job in the midst of open hostility towards him.

He said: "I've loved every minute of this season. Seven Old Firm games, two cup finals and taking the league title to the wire. If you can't enjoy that you shouldn't be in this game.

"I'll get bored in the house after two weeks of the close season. 'I want "I done ed a break, mentally as well as physically, but I can clear my get mind in no time at the all."The season never ends, in any case. There are players' agents to speak to and chief executives. There area lot of viable propositions out there for Celtic and that's why I was at Cardiff and Reading's play-off semi-final during the week."

Underworld Viable propositions, you'll note, not viable packages. The police phrase for explosive devices that are capable of going off has entered the game's vocabulary since the Parkhead boss developed a magnetic attraction for suspicious packages.

But he's hopeful a corner might have been turned in the case of Lennon versus the underworld.

"People have been charged and are awaiting trial for things that happened concerning me," he said of three men currently in custody for offences aggravated by religious intolerance.

"If the allegations should turn to convictions then that might send out a message to everyone if they think of doing anything wrong they might have a long time away to think about what they've done."

Walter Smith said he would have quit if any dangerous packages had come his way but yesterday was not the time to mention the ex-Rangers manager in Lennon's presence. The Celtic boss said: "He didn't get anything sent to him and I did.

"I take the view that I shouldn't have to give up my job for reasons that have nothing to do with football.

"And I owe it to the players to stay at Celtic because I brought a lot of them here and it would be remiss of me to just walk away."

But Lennon doesn't deny there's an obvious pressure on him and his team today when they face a Lanarkshire side who are rank outsiders.

And he relishes that fact in the same way he can cope with his job while the members of Strathclyde Police's antiterrorist unit are practically on first-name terms with him.

He added: "This is Celtic's first Scottish Cup Final since 2007 and the chance for this club to win a trophy for the first time since 2009.

Savour "I think we deserve something for the way we've played this season but football doesn't always give you what you merit.

"As a manager I'll be gauged on the prizes I win. As a team, Celtic aren't allowed to savour a season in which we took 92 league points. That's for other clubs to enjoy.

"I don't think we've done a lot wrong this season. I could throw other numbers at you but what relevance would they have? "The irony is we're regarded as heavy favourites because we've played so well.

just "It would be good for me to get my hands on my first trophy but I know questions will be asked and fingers will be pointed if I end up with nothing."

us to over Lennon would arguably be top of the list of people who don't want, or need, anybody's sympathy vote. But every occupant of his dressing room to have spoken this week has mentioned their desire to win the Cup for their manager. True to form, he booted that argument into touch in the same way he did a crate of energy drinks from the trackside at Inverness on the night Celtic's title hopes were derailed.

line' He said: "I don't want them to win it for me. I've won plenty in my time. I appeared in five of these Scottish Cup finals and won four of them.

"I just want us to go to Hampden and win. If we win the Cup with style so much the better. But if we win it and we're crap I'll accept that as well.

"People spoke about us blowing the league title but I don't buy that. The game's about fine lines and slender margins and I just want to get us over the line against Motherwell.

"I'm also looking forward to leading my team out for the Final. It will make a f*****g change."

A touchline suspension prevented from being in the technical area when Celtic met Rangers in the Co-operative Cup Final.

Sitting in his exclusion zone in the stand would have been a major disappointment for any other manager, but it was made to look like a minor irritation for the man whose time was taken up with high explosives and low motives.

CAPTION(S):

FINAL TOUCH: Neil Lennon celebrates his four Scottish Cup successes as a player against, from top, Hibs, Dunfermline, Dundee United and Dunfermline again
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 21, 2011
Words:1026
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