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   Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
O'Neill beaten but unbowed
O'Neill and Alex McLeish show contrasting emotions
O'Neill and Alex McLeish show contrasting emotions

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill insisted the disappointment of losing out to rivals Rangers in the Scottish Cup final would not outweigh his delight at another successful season.

O'Neill admitted his side had been second best at Hampden but stressed that having won the league, he felt his side were still the team to beat.

"Obviously I'm disappointed to lose the game in the last 10 seconds, but that's part of the game," he said.

"Some of our players just didn't have the energy and that was understandable, but needs must.

"On reflection, though, I'll be disappointed tonight and tomorrow morning, but the players have been fantastic again this season.

"We've won the league and that means we have another crack at the Champions League."

He denied that he had miscalculated in playing Paul Lambert, who passed a late fitness test.

To come back against Celtic twice speaks volumes for the players

Alex McLeish
Rangers manager
"Paul wanted to play and it wasn't a hard decision for me to play him," he added.

"I was prepared to take that gamble and Paul is blameless."

O'Neill also defended his decision not to make substitutions towards the end of the game, with the scoreline at 2-2 but Rangers dominating.

"I thought, and I'm sure Alex McLeish thought as well, that the game was heading for extra-time and I was conscious of the fact that some of our players were tiring.

"But I have no regrets. Rangers are a good side and they played well."

Triumphant Rangers manager Alex McLeish paid tribute to the 12 players who secured a cup double for the Ibrox club.

McLeish admitted that he had enjoyed a more successful start to his career as boss at Rangers than he could have imagined.

McLeish shows off his latest trophy
McLeish has won two cups in five months
But he acknowledged that the real test of his managerial strength and the quality of his team would be measured in next season's league campaign.

"It was a fantastic game," said McLeish.

"To come back against Celtic twice speaks volumes for the players.

"Not many teams will do that, I don't know if any team has done since Martin O'Neill took over.

"It was a stunning performance and we deserved it."

Of the opening five months of his Rangers career, he added: "It's been hectic, but it's exceeded my expectations.

"I expected to win silverware with Rangers but this has been more than I had hoped."

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 BBC Five Live - Celtic boss Martin O'Neill
"A game too far"

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