RUGBY Park has not, it is fair to say, been a particularly happy hunting ground for Celtic this season.

The Parkhead club lost were knocked out of the Viaplay Cup down in Ayrshire way back in August and were defeated again when they returned on cinch Premiership duty in December.

So there were maybe other grounds which Brendan Rodgers and his players would have chosen to play a game which they had the chance to clinch the Scottish title at.

Celtic, though, are a completely different team now to the one which struggled for form and consistency during the first half of the 2023/24 campaign.

They turned on the style when it mattered most this evening to win on the artificial surface which has caused them so many problems at the third time of asking and spark wild celebrations.

First-half goals from Adam Idah, Daizen Maeda and James Forrest sent the green and white clad away supporters who had filled every seat in the away end into raptures and put the final outcome beyond any doubt.

But Matt O’Riley still weighed in with a double in the second-half for good measure. The emphatic triumph sent them six points clear of Rangers at the top of the table again with just one fixture remaining.

It was the fifth time that Celtic have won the league at Rugby Park in their 136 year history – they had previously done so in 1969, 2004, 2007 and 2012 - and the 12th time in the last 13 years they have come out on top.

Here are five talking points from the one-sided rout.  

Idah impact

The Republic of Ireland internationalist had only, mainly due to Kyogo Furuhashi being preferred to him up front, been on target seven times since joining Celtic on loan from Norwich City back in January before tonight.

But the 23-year-old has netted some hugely important goals for the Glasgow club – his doubles against Hibernian at Easter Road and Motherwell at Fir Park in February helped to secure improbably victories.

His late strike against Rangers at Ibrox last month also ensured the visitors prevented their opponents, who had a game in hand still to play at the time, from moving two points clear of them at the top of the table.

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Idah was handed his first start since the home league game against Livingston in early March and promptly justified his selection by getting the party started in just the fifth minute. He turned a defence-splitting pass from Matt O’Riley in from a few yards out.

It will cost in the region of £5m to land him permanently this summer and it is unclear if Celtic will be prepared to part with such a sizeable sum.

But he certainly increased the likelihood of a bid being made this evening. He was a handful for the Kilmarnock defence before he was replaced by Furuhashi and could easily have plundered more. His opener, though, incensed the hosts.   


Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes and his charges were furious the first goal of the evening was allowed to stand because they were convinced the Celtic striker had fouled their centre half Robbie Deas during the build-up.

Deas went to ground in the opposition half and after appearing to be caught by a flailing arm and he was still down on his hands and knees when Kieran O’Hara was picking the ball out of his net.

Kyle Vassell and his team mates surrounded referee Don Robertson and protested and fourth official Euan Anderson was told in no uncertain terms by McInnes that his colleague should have another look at the attacking phase of play.

Over at Clydesdale House, however, VAR official Greg Aitken was quite happy and Robertson did not go over to his pitchside monitor for a review. Deas was still complaining as he returned to the field with tissue paper hanging out of his bloody nose.  

There was more anger when a spectacular second-half Danny Armstrong goal was disallowed for offside. New SFA head of refereeing Willie Collum will have his work cut out restoring faith in the modern technology when he takes up his role.     

Cup confidence

The Premiership match against St Mirren in the East End on Saturday is now a dead rubber for Celtic.

But Callum McGregor and his team mates will be determined to finish with a flourish before they are presented with the trophy. They will want to go into the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final at Hampden seven days later with momentum behind them.

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There is every chance they will. This was one of their best performances of this term. They were untroubled at the back, full of pace and invention in the middle of the park and out wide and clinical in the final third.   

They blew the fourth-placed team in the country away. Celtic will be licking their lips at the prospect of squaring up to Rangers, who they are undefeated against in the past 10 months, once again.

Ange who?

It has taken Brendan Rodgers some time to win over previously adoring fans since taking over from Ange Postecoglou as manager at his childhood heroes in June last year.

But the Greek-Australian, who is having a tough time of it these days down at Spurs, was forgotten tonight. The fans lauded his Northern Irish replacement loudly as they maintained their vice-like grip on the Scottish title.

Rodgers has described this as his most difficult season in the dugout. He deserves enormous credit for coming through it all and delivering more silverware. He was entitled to milk and applause and adulation which rained down on him.  

Tommy tifo

Not much in Scottish football unites fans of rival clubs. But supporters of both Kilmarnock and Celtic took to their feet as one before kick-off this evening to applaud a giant tifo of Tommy Burns which the Green Brigade ultras group unfurled in the packed Chadwick Stand.

Burns played for and managed both the Parkhead and Rugby Park clubs and is remembered with enormous affection by followers of both teams, particularly the former, to this day.

The ex-Scotland midfielder passed away at the age of just 51 on this day in 2008 and there was a minute’s applause in his memory before play commenced. It was a fitting tribute to a great man.

The supporter who got lucky, as he called himself, will have been looking down from somewhere approvingly when the final whistle blew.