JONNY Hayes is targeting more happy Hampden memories after putting some of his Scottish Cup heartache behind him by playing a starring role in Celtic's semi-final win over Aberdeen yesterday.

The winger scored against his current club when he was an Aberdeen player in the 2016 final but still wound up on the losing side. He then had to sit out of last season’s final after breaking his leg playing for Celtic against Dundee earlier in the campaign.

But now he is hoping to put all of that behind him by playing a major role in Celtic rounding off another treble by lifting the trophy at the national stadium in May.

“It’s been tough,” Hayes said. “The broken leg was a major setback, just as I was finding a bit of form and having a run in the team. It came at the worst possible time because not only did I then miss the rest of the season, but I started the following one a couple of weeks behind everyone else as well.

“Then it took me a while to get going but our medical people and sports scientists have been brilliant with me and everyone else at the club. They keep you sharp even when you’re not playing so that – whether you’ve been out for six days or six weeks – you can come straight back in and do a job.

“I was at the final against Motherwell last year with my little boy but I’m looking forward to playing in it this season.

“Football’s a lot more enjoyable when you win games and we knew exactly what was at stake here. Our game plan worked perfectly and it didn’t matter whether we won it with a 90th-minute goal or, as it happened, with a comfortable 3-0 – our job today was to get to the final.”

Hayes has loved being a regular fixture in the Celtic side since the arrival of interim manager Neil Lennon, having been something of a peripheral figure under previous boss Brendan Rodgers.

“Since the manager’s come in he’s been very positive with me,” Hayes said. “He gave me the chance to play against Rangers the other week and now he’s fielded me in a semi-final; obviously, I’m grateful for that.

“The slight adjustments he’s made have benefited me, that’s for sure. He’s someone who’s been involved with Scottish football for a long time and his personality means that he commands respect – even before I signed for Celtic, any time I met him I had to call him ‘gaffer’!

“We’ve always got on well and the way he wants his teams to play suits me. He’s been happy with what he’s seen from me at training. He didn’t have a special pep talk for me when he arrived, though – it was more about continuity.

“He didn’t want to disrupt anything because Brendan Rodgers had done a fantastic job, so he just wanted everyone to keep doing what we had been doing.

“We have a big squad and everyone wants to play and is good enough to play.”