Shiels: Cup joy tinged with sadness

PA Sport
Kenny Shiels

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Kenny Shiels

Kenny Shiels has spoken of the sadness that has enveloped Kilmarnock following the death of midfielder Liam Kelly's father, who collapsed following Sunday's 1-0 Scottish Communities League Cup final win over Celtic at Hampden.

Jack Kelly, 59, suffered a suspected heart attack just after the final whistle and received emergency treatment from paramedics next to the Kilmarnock dugout. As Killie players and supporters celebrated winning the trophy for the first time in the club's history, thanks to Dieter van Tornhout's header, Liam Kelly went up the tunnel in a state of distress.

The 22-year-old midfielder rushed to the nearby hospital where his father was taken, but he died shortly afterwards. The rest of the players were told the news of the death as they toured the Ayrshire town on an open-top bus. Kilmarnock boss Shiels told Press Association Sport: "We are all feeling for Liam and his family."

He added: "It is very sad. I spoke to him this morning and he is distraught, of course he is. It is going to be hard for him, he's only a young boy and we shouldn't forget that.

"Apart from feeling for Liam and his family, we wanted to enjoy the achievement and we did that with the trip around the town last night, but it was tinged with sadness. Liam is one of the Kilmarnock family and the compassion shown towards him and his family by the players and staff has been tremendous."

In the wake of the tragedy, Shiels was reluctant to get too involved in the controversial decision by referee Willie Collum not to award Celtic a last-gasp penalty when striker Anthony Stokes went to ground following a challenge by Kilmarnock defender Michael Nelson.

Collum booked an incredulous Stokes for simulation, a decision described by Neil Lennon as "criminal", with the angry Celtic boss accusing the official of costing his side the chance of the treble.

"I don't want to do an Arsene Wenger (and say I didn't see it) but I genuinely didn't have a clear look and I haven't seen it again, although I will look at it today," said Shiels. "If it should have been a penalty then I must apologise because then we didn't deserve to win the cup and Celtic were unlucky."

Lennon expressed his shock at the news on the Parkhead club's official website. He said: "All of the management team, players and backroom staff wish to offer our thoughts and prayers to Liam Kelly's family. Myself and the entire team are shocked and saddened with this news and our heartfelt condolences go to Liam."

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added: "Everyone at Celtic is devastated by this terrible news. All at the football club are thinking about Liam and the entire Kelly family at this very sad time."

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