A LEAGUE season which got underway amid a great ado about the impending departure of a striker called Dembele from Celtic finished with huge excitement about the arrival of a winger of the same name on the scene at Parkhead.

Moussa of that ilk may finally, after an interminable transfer saga, have left for Lyon at the end of August. That affair, though, was a distant memory yesterday as Karamoko finally, after years of anticipation about the gifted youngster, made his debut.

This game, which saw both clubs field weakened starting line-ups, was a bit of a non-event truth be told. But the emergence after half-time of the diminutive kid about whom there has been so much noise lifted the crowd and provided an entertaining sideshow in the second-half.

At 16 years and 88 days he is not quite the youngest player to feature for Celtic in a competitive fixture in their 131 year history. That honour still goes to Jack Aitchison who was 16 years and 71 days when he made his bow back in 2016. But Dembele looks, on the evidence of the 45 minutes he played here, capable of breaking a few records of his own in the seasons to come.

Standing just 5ft 3in in his studs, he certainly wasn’t overawed by the occasion. He made himself available for the ball at every opportunity, passed it accurately and wasn’t afraid to try his luck in front of goal when the opportunity arose. He went close on more than one occasion. His every touch was cheered by the crowd.

Dembele, London-born to Ivorian parents and Glasgow-raised, helped his side to record a narrow 2-1 triumph and will have had his confidence that he can live at this level despite his tender age boosted by his bright showing. His manager Neil Lennon was certainly impressed.

Only a handful of the Celtic players who took to the field in their final Premiership fixture against Hearts yesterday are likely to be involved in the William Hill Scottish Cup final next weekend.

Lennon chose to rest the majority of those who will be in his starting line-up against the capital club at Hampden on Saturday in the hope they will be fit and fresh for what is a far more important fixture.

Scott Bain and Kristoffer Ajer will retain their places and Oliver Burke, Mikey Johnston, Olivier Ntcham, Scott Sinclair and Jeremy Toljan could, depending on injuries, also feature in a match the Glasgow club must win to become the first to complete a treble treble. But Filip Benkovic, Dembele, Nir Bitton, Ewan Henderson, Anthony Ralston will be lucky to get game time.

So this subdued display and narrow win will have little bearing on how the Parkhead club, who were presented with the Ladbrokes Premiership trophy for the eighth year running following the final whistle, fare in what will be an altogether more tension-filled occasion.

Lennon felt it was key that they got a run-out with such an important game looming. “Benkovic, Bitton, Ntcham and Sinky needed game time and it is was important that they for match sharpness and fitness and all the things you get from the game today bearing in mind that they could be involved in the final next week,” he said

“I am not sure how fit some of them will be next week so it was important some of the senior players out there got 90 minutes under their belt. They could win me the cup final next week. The game could go 90 minutes, it could go to extra time.

"I will need 14 players or 15 players to achieve something, so it was important they got up to speed. They were probably lacking that game time for quite a while so it was a great day for that as well.”

Hearts weren’t at full-strength either. Andy Irving, Aaron Hickey and Connor Smith are hardly first team regulars. Nevertheless, the fact they have won just one of their last nine fixtures is hardly encouraging for them. Nor was the loss of Olly Lee, who twisted his knee, in the first-half. The midfielder will be assessed by Tynecastle medical staff in the coming days.

There was a thinly-veiled dig at Rangers by Celtic before kick-off when the Hearts players formed a guard of honour for their hosts before kick-off. It was, according to the stadium announcer, a “fitting and respectful” gesture. Their city rivals, of course, had opted not to mark their latest title win in the same manner at Ibrox seven days earlier.

There was also the presentation of a commemorative quaich to Hearts centre half Aaron Hughes by Lennon and Craig Levein before the game got underway to mark the imminent retirement of the most capped defender in British football.

The man who has represented Northern Ireland on no fewer than 112 occasions wouldn’t have been impressed with how the visitors’ back line started the match.

They were cut open in just the second minute by a one-two involving Henderson and Johnston and the latter rounded off the move by slotting beyond Zdenek Zlamal and into the net. That should have been the cue for the celebrations to get underway.

But Hearts, despite Olly Lee limping off and being replaced by Ryan Edwards, levelled in the 18th minute. Bain gave the ball away under pressure from Craig Wighton and Sean Clare fed Jake Mulraney inside him. His team mate curled a fine effort into the top right corner.

The game looked to be heading for a draw until Johnston burst forward with six minutes of regulation time left on the clock and slotted his second from the edge of the Hearts box.

Moussa Dembele made a surprise appearance at his old club yesterday to see his former captain Scott Brown receive their latest piece of silverware. The French forward happily posed for selfies and signed autographs with fans following festivities. But it was Karamoko Dembele who received the most attention and is likely to going forward.