Downpatrick’s Conor in line for Celtic final

Downpatrick’s Conor in line for Celtic final

16 December 2020

DOWNPATRICK goalkeeper Conor Hazard is in line to start for Celtic in this weekend’s crunch Scottish Cup Final against Hearts.

The 22-year old impressed as he featured in last week’s 3-2 Europa League victory for the Scottish champions over French side Lille in Glasgow. That result however was inconsequential in terms of the overall group placings. 

The Hoops finished bottom and Lille qualified alongside Italian giants AC Milan. However Hazard then kept his spot in the team for last weekend’s 2-0 Scottish Premiership victory over Kilmarnock.

As well as now being in line for a bumper new contract with Neil Lennon’s side, there are suggestions the manager may select him for this weekend’s Scottish Cup showpiece at Hampden Park.

The game has been held over since the end of last season as Celtic chase a fourth successive domestic clean sweep of trophies.

Hazard will be hoping to see more action for the Scottish champions over a busy festive period, as they look to begin to haul in a 13-gap to Steven Gerrard’s side at the top of the table in their quest to win an historic ten league titles in succession.

The young goalkeeper had started the campaign as third choice at the club, but his performances have pushed him ahead of summer arrival Vasilis Barkas of Greece, and Scott Bain. He is very much to the fore in Lennon’s thinking for even the biggest of games now.

Hazard played for Ballynagross in the Downpatrick Youth League, before making the switch to Cliftonville. He has been on the books at Celtic since 2014. He has previously had spells out on loan with Falkirk, Partick Thistle, and twice at Dundee. 

Hazard made his senior Northern Ireland debut two years ago against Costa Rica in a friendly. He has also been a regular for the U-21 side, captaining them during their last European Championship qualifying campaign. He will now be looking to make an impact with the senior side, managed by Ian Baraclough. 

Hazard has stiff competition for his place there too in the shape of Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Michael McGovern. However, there is no doubt that the more he stakes his claim in Glasgow, the harder it will be for Baraclough to ignore him.