Celtic U-18 0

Aberdeen u-18 2

Scorers: Tiernan (1min), Michie (20).

Hampden Park

IT IS the way football should be played: take the raw enthusiasm of a 35-a-side public park kick-about, replace proper goals for Kappa jackets and the salubrious surroundings of Hampden Park for trees and broken Buckfast bottles. It prompted one observer to ask: ''At what stage do they beat this out of them?''

That, unfortunately, remains Scottish football's great imponderable. While the game's custodians continue their as yet unfruitful search for an answer, it would appear we have to put up with ready-made bulk-buying from abroad, but a delve into the lower reaches of the game restores at least a semblance of faith in our national game.

Sixteen years have passed since arguably the best youth game of all time, when the two teams played out an eight-goal footballing feast at Pittodrie, with the home side victors by five goals to three.

They were again crowned Youth Cup champions after a two-goal victory against Celtic last night, with Fergus Tiernan and Scott Michie grabbing the glory in front of a curious and ultimately satisfied crowd numbering 2228.

The south side of Glasgow, well a few hundred of them at least, are still in mourning for the loss of Queen's Park from the second division, but one newsagent, a short shuffle from the stadium, has obviously not been keeping up to date with their progress or otherwise. Indeed, he is still advertising the Spiders' #100 second-division season-ticket promotion special from last summer on his window, although doubtless it will not be long before an insensitive prankster wields his big felt-tipped pen.

By the shrieks from the sparsely-populated stands at the national stadium, it appeared as though the nearby paperboys had decided to pop in to watch the potential stars of the future in action but the travelling band had obviously been refreshing themselves on the journey


On what was intended to be a family event, where mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters would turn up to lend their support, the pocket of Dons' fans insisted on maintaining their bitter rivalry with their Glasgow counterparts with their cringing rendition of ''You'll Never Get a Job.''

There were more than a few tut-tuts emanating from the Celtic end and more than a few groans when Aberdeen took an early lead.

The Celtic youth team coach, Willie McStay, intimated during the build-up to the match that Hampden's hallowed turf would be the ideal test of the those with heady ambitions.

It was saddening, then, to see the Celtic goalkeeper, Allan Morrison, grope unsuccessfully at the maiden corner kick. A laudable attempt to stamp his authority while many may have stayed on the goal-line, his bravery nevertheless cost his side a goal, with Tiernan realising his dream of scoring at Hampden, albeit from two yards and with the keeper grounded.

With taunts of ''dodgy keeper'' from the numbskulls who tried their best to taint an otherwise wholesome evening, Morrison simply puffed out his chest and chewed on his concentration stick.

He refused to flap when Darren Mackie flopped to the ground moments after his mishap and while his heart may have fluttered, the referee eased his fears by booking the midfielder for diving. Diving? Under-18 level? The ba's burst. ''Stick that in yer paper, son,'' wailed a wrinkly. There. Happy?

The arrears prompted the post-pubescent Bhoys to show that Celtic's winning formula is not a recipe secret to Martin O'Neill's men. Bryan Prunty and Shaun Maloney, the 17-year-old who made such an impact on his top-team debut against Rangers, clicked into gear, with both coming close to redressing the balance during a frenetic phase of the first half.

However, the goal of Aberdeen keeper Mark Peat remained unbreached during the bombardment and their resistance was rewarded after a swift counter-attack.

Mackie, one of four Aberdeen players on show to have been exposed to Uncle Ebbe's elite, rampaged down the right-hand side and clipped the ball into the danger area. Michie, stalking around the six-yard area, preyed on Morrison's punitive protection with a searing strike.

The steam had not sapped for the second half and McStay might have taken a leaf out of Sir Alex Ferguson's book, literally, with a half-time holler aimed at rousing his troops into action. Celtic, remember, had overturned a similar half-time deficit 15 years ago. It soon became apparent, though, that history would not be repeated as Aber-deen weathered the early storm to reassert themselves.

Ross O'Donoghue, who recently made his first-team debut against St Johnstone, exuded a calm authority throughout at the heart of the slick Dons side and unleashed a venomous drive which required the urgent attention of Morrison.

There were to be no further goals but the action was unrelenting and a round of appreciative applause reinforced the main purpose of the exercise. To entertain. They have all their careers to worry about the consequences of winning and losing, after all.

CELTIC: Morrison, van Zanten, McManus, Flynn, Kennedy, Jack, McParland, Fotheringham, Prunty, Maloney, Fyfe. Substitutes: Casey, Pinkowski, Millar, Murphy, Beattie.

ABERDEEN: Peat, Payne, Morrison, Kidd, McNaughton, McCulloch, Mackie, O'Donoghue, Michie, Tiernan, Duncan. Substitutes: Jones, McKenzie, McHattie, Watson, Carella.

Referee: C Richmond.