CELTIC STARLET SEEKING FIRST TEAM ACTION
By Phil Gordon
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The young Irishman capped a wonderful performance with the vital extra time goal which essentially killed off Hearts in the 5-2 thriller at Tynecastle.
Midfielder Healy celebrated a rare start with a 99th minute strike which put Celtic 3-2 in front, a lead they never looked like losing as they booked their place in the semi-finals. The Republic of Ireland under-21 player is now desperate to play a more regular role now.
"It was my first start since the CIS Cup tie with Raith Rovers in September and I thought I did well," said Healy. "I hope I stay in the team, but it is up to the boss.
"I enjoyed my goal, which is my second for the club - I scored against Dundee last season when Kenny Dalglish had his first game in charge. Still, it was good that the three young players all scored."
Indeed, left back Stephen Crainey and forward Jamie Smith also staked a claim to be included in O'Neill's first team squad with fine goals in normal time of a classic cup-tie.
"It took the young lads some time to get into their stride," said O'Neill of the teenagers. "But in the second half they were superb. Crainey tired, which I expected after recent injury, while Smith could have let his head go down after missing an earlier chance but he finished brilliantly to put us 2-1 ahead.
"Healy was outstanding. He is a bit older than the other two, and he has bided his time, and although never really out of the squad, he took his chance with his performance and I am pleased for him."