DERMOT Desmond may well have been thousands of miles away from Scotland in Augusta last week watching transfixed as Tiger Woods completed one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all-time in the US Masters golf tournament.

Yet, the Irish financier’s thoughts never strayed too far from the historic achievement, an unprecedented treble treble, that Celtic find themselves on the brink of.

Neil Lennon –who is intent on securing a sporting return of his own by being appointed manager at the Glasgow club for a second time – revealed yesterday that he had three transatlantic telephone conversations with Desmond in the days leading up to the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at the weekend.

The billionaire businessman, the major shareholder at Celtic, was able to assure Lennon there was no substance to any of the stories linking renowned coaches like Rafa Benitez, Roberto Martinez and Andre Villas-Boas with moves to the East End ahead of the crucial meeting with Aberdeen at Hampden on Sunday.

His encouraging words clearly had the desired effect as the Northern Irishman, who has taken charge on an interim basis until the end of the 2018/19 campaign, duly led the defending champions to a 3-0 triumph.


READ MORE: Aberdeen pay the price for their physical football as classy Celtic move to the brink of history

“We talked three times in the week,” said Lennon. “Obviously I was anxious about the game coming up because of the previous result (they drew 0-0 in the league at Celtic Park last month).

“What was he saying? It was: ‘How’s the team doing? How are you doing?’ He’s a great port of call and he was in Augusta as well. I still jump (when his number comes up on his phone) you know! Don’t worry about that. It keeps you on your toes.

“I spoke with him Tuesday, then I rang him on Friday and we spoke again briefly on Saturday. It was all good and positive. And I’ve got Peter (chief executive Lawwell) and I talk with him every day.

“I couldn’t ask for two better people to work with in a footballing sense. It was a difficult week, but it was made a lot easier by those two and the conversations I had with them. I have to say that.

“At the end of the day, it’s their club and they have had a great time of it with Brendan (Rodgers). It’s their club and their opinion and I have no issue with that at all.”


READ MORE: Matthew Lindsay: Why Celtic must make Neil Lennon their next manager - whether he lands the treble or not

Desmond gave no indication of whether Lennon would be made manager permanently during their chats. But could the close and productive working relationship the two men have always had swing things in the current incumbent’s favour? It could very well be a factor.

The former Bolton and Hibernian manager is certainly comfortable that another man is not being lined up to take over following the Scottish Cup final against Hearts on May 25 despite what the rumourmongers on Twitter and internet messageboards may be suggesting to the contrary.

“They don’t make the decisions,” he said. “We live in a generation now with social media, fake news and stuff being put out there, you just have to blank it out.

“It’s hard. You try and break it down, but you are living in a bubble really. Lennoxtown and home, Lennoxtown and home. You get a bit grumpy, you know what I mean.

“But I know they way the club works and I know it’s not Dermot’s style. He’s given me the job until the end of the season and he wouldn’t want anything to affect that, the levels of concentration.

“People forget I have worked with them before, so I know how they work. I did it for a long time whether it be as a manager, a player or a coach, so I’m very comfortable with what they are telling me.”

The position that Lennon has found himself in – in charge of another manager’s hugely successful team and unsure if he will kept on beyond the end of the season – has not been easy for him to cope with despite the support and reassurance he has received from Desmond and Lennon.

It is just as well, then, that the 47-year-old is a less combustible individual than he was during his first spell as manager between 2010 and 2014 when some epic meltdowns led him into hot water, including with Desmond, on more than one occasion.


READ MORE: Kris Ajer insists Celtic will not let up in quest for triple treble

“I’m fighting myself a little bit at the moment,” he said. “I’m not as aggressive and feel sometimes that I’m holding back, that I’m not being natural. But sometimes it is good to be mellow.

“It’s good for the players that way because they had it like that under Brendan for a long time. Brendan cracked the whip a couple of times and I’ve only had to do it once since I’ve been here. Would I change back? Like being the Tasmanian Devil? No, no. Those days are long gone.”

Should Lennon help Celtic deliver the treble treble it will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Desmond and Lawwell not to appoint him on a full-time basis. But he knows the outcome of the final is no foregone conclusion. He has endured a few memorable battles with the Hearts team his charges will face next month over the years and expects their vastly-experienced manager Craig Levein to have his men well prepared.

“Hearts are a good team, but you expect a good team to be in the final,” he said. “Hibs and Aberdeen were also tough opponents (quarters and semis), so if we are going to win it, we are going to have to earn it.

“I know Craig very well and I have an awful lot of respect for him, he knows that. We talk away privately at times and, despite everything this season, he’s been to the semi-final of the League Cup, now the final of the Scottish Cup and around the top six all season despite a plethora of injuries. Some of the criticism that he has had over the piece has been unfair on him. We expect nothing other than a tough game.”