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Simply the best: Northern Ireland team-mates David Healy, Kyle Lafferty and Steven Davis celebrate Rangers' SPL title win yesterday

Simply the best: Northern Ireland team-mates David Healy, Kyle Lafferty and Steven Davis celebrate Rangers' SPL title win yesterday

Lynne Cameron/POOL

Simply the best: Northern Ireland team-mates David Healy, Kyle Lafferty and Steven Davis celebrate Rangers' SPL title win yesterday

Three was the magic number for Rangers yesterday - three SPL titles on the spin, three goals for Kyle Lafferty to kick-off the celebrations and three Northern Ireland players featuring in the 5-1 win over Kilmarnock to get the party started.

Rangers, who also have Northern Ireland international Andrew Little coming through their ranks, were given a massive helping hand by Ulstermen Lafferty, Steven Davis and David Healy at Rugby Park.

The champagne was flowing in the blue half of Glasgow, shattering the dreams of Celtic boss and former Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon as well as his Hoops players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt.

Lafferty certainly turned up for the party yesterday, smashing in a hat-trick as Kenny Shiels' Kilmarnock side were thumped 5-1.

Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic were also on the scoresheet as Walter Smith's second spell at Rangers ended in sensational style. "He is the manager who brought me here," said Lafferty. "I always dreamed of playing for Rangers and he gave me that chance and I thank him for that.

"To score three goals in his last game and to win the title and three in a row was amazing.

"We sent him off the other night in his last game at Ibrox and then managed to get the win today and he picked up his last trophy for the club. It was a great achievement for him."

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Lafferty had also netted in the previous two seasons' title deciders.

He added: "It's happened for the last three years now. Scoring first, I would have been happy with that.

"But to get three today was a dream for me."

Rangers finished a point ahead of Celtic who also won yesterday, seeing off Motherwell 4-0 at Parkhead with Paddy McCourt on the scoresheet, along with Gary Hooper, Georgios Samaras and Shaun Maloney.

But it's the Gers trio who hold the bragging rights in the Northern Ireland camp and David Healy was smiling at the finish despite the news he will be axed from Nigel Worthington's squad for the Carling Nations Cup games against Republic of Ireland and Wales. With only 47 seconds on the clock, Steven Davis set up Lafferty for the opener and three goals in the first seven minutes got the Gers off to the dream start they wanted.

"I definitely don't enjoy the pressure but I just do the same in training and in the games and the goals seem to come along at the end," added Lafferty.

"Every single player knew what we had to do - get the three points and we would be champions. We did that and to get the goals so early in the game was a dream, although we took the foot off the gas a bit once we went 3-0 up."

Lafferty believes past experience of delivering titles helped Rangers produce the goods once again this term. The striker said: "We have been there for the last three years and we know what it's all about. We've got that winning mentality in the team - we don't know when to stop."

The Kesh man is not expected to be in Worthington's panel for the Carling Nations Cup games while McCourt may also miss out.


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