Russell aims to prolong the family celebrations
JULIE-ANN RUSSELL wants to follow her brother John's lead today and complete a special football week for their family.
The Irish women's international was at Dalymount Park last Sunday to see John help Sligo Rovers reach the FAI Ford Cup final and this afternoon she'll be involved in her country's UEFA Championship qualifier against Israel at Tallaght Stadium (3.0pm).
The Galway duo left their home city to further their careers, with Julie-Ann moving to Peamount United in time for last month's UEFA Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
As in that two-legged tie, the 20-year-old winger's international duty was restricted to sub appearances in Ireland's opening pair of qualifiers against Wales and France four weeks ago because of an ankle injury.
That problem has now cleared up and Russell is pushing for her first competitive start of the campaign today to seal a memorable week.
"It's class for John's Sligo team to be in their second final in a row and I was at the Aviva last year when they won the cup," she said. "My brother and I were always big into football growing up. All my family will be at Tallaght today and, hopefully, we'll get a result."
Russell's talents have attracted interest from professional clubs abroad and she spent last summer playing for American outfit LA Strikers.
College commitments at University Limerick, where she's three years into a marketing degree, forced a return home, but Doncaster Belles are in advanced talks to sign her in January.
Along with playing in the English Super League campaign, the switch will count as work placement from UL as she'll combine football with a business job within the club.
Nothing less than victory for Ireland over an Israel team beaten 6-1 at home to Scotland will suffice if the Irish are to keep alive their hopes of qualifying.
IRELAND (probable) -- E Byrne (Arsenal); D Caldwell (Thor/KA), Y Tracy (Arsenal), L Quinn (Peamount United), G Murray (Peamount United); S Roche (Peamount United), N Fahey (Arsenal), C Grant (Arsenal); D O'Sullivan (Wilton United), F O'Sullivan (Pitea IF), JA Russell (Peamount United).