Belfast Telegraph

Neil Lennon’s home town shocked and disgusted by events

By Connla Young and Sarah Rainey

Friends of Celtic manager Neil Lennon have rallied to support him after news of the bomb attempt on his life.

There was widespread shock and condemnation in Lennon’s home town of Lurgan as it emerged that he was the target of a parcel bomb last month.

As the under-pressure star prepared for last night’s clash with Kilmarnock, locals said the Bhoys’ boss would overcome the challenge.

Seamus Heffron, who taught Lennon at St Michael’s Grammar School in the 1980s, said the threats against Lennon were “hellish”.

Mr Heffron has kept in touch with the Celtic manager through the years and said he had come through greater tests than the one he faces now.

“To be frank, for a man who has reportedly come out about his depression, he has handled it exceptionally strongly,” he said.

“He is of a very strong mindset for what he has come through, really incredible.

“At this time you think about his parents and it’s not easy for them, it’s horrendous, but I think Neil has great mental strength.

“He was out for a year and |came home to rehabilitate himself and that took a lot of mental strength, but he had the confidence to know he was going to make it.”

Others who know the Lennon family said the former midfielder’s confidence would not be affected by yet another attempt at intimi

dation. Former Upper Bann |Assemblywoman Brid Rodgers said she had fond memories |of watching Lennon play Gaelic football with her son in the |1980s.

“He was a small, tough-looking redhead that put the fear of God into everybody he played against,” she said.

“He always showed total determination and nothing would stop him. I have absolutely no doubt that he won’t stop his work.”

But Dessie McGuinness, who coached Lennon as a teenager at Lurgan Celtic Boys’ Club, said he preferred not to talk about the star.

“It’s dangerous — with everything that’s happened, you don’t want to say too much,” he said.

Elsewhere in the UK, high-profile figures spoke out in support of the controversial manager.

Prime Minister David Cameron said “the full force of the law should come crashing down” on whoever was responsible for sending the bombs.

“It's just completely appalling and unacceptable, and obviously the police will want to do everything they can do find out who did this,” he said.

“It's hard to believe that it is happening, but nonetheless it has happened, and so police will want to follow absolutely every lead they can to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Meanwhile, Rangers’ chief executive Martin Bain said he was “utterly appalled” by the news.

“Such behaviour is to be condemned,” he added.

“These acts have no place in society and no place in football.”

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