Monday 19 February 2018

Russell: from San Jose to Pairc Ui Rinn

John Russell

LIVING and working in San Jose, near San Francisco, on the West-Coast of America for the past six months, the long-serving John Russell was delighted to play a part in Grenagh's victory.

He had also been brought home for the county junior hurling final, but, by his own admission, things didn't go well for him personally after he was introduced for the second half of the game against Kilbrin.

"The most important thing was that we won the hurling final, but I didn't expect to be involved in the football final. I had no expectations really, but my plan was to come back if the club felt they needed me.

"I said to Donie (Dorgan) and Mick Lehane, who has been a magnificent club chairman this year and is one of our corner backs as well, I'd be there if they wanted it, and that I'd fully understand if they didn't."

Although given no guarantee he'd be used in the final, Russell was prepared to make the journey from America via Indianapolis and Amsterdam to take a place on the Grenagh bench.

"It was the hardest trip I have ever done, I had been home for a week before the hurling final, but I didn't arrive in Cork until Friday night this time, and I'll be gone again at 6am in the morning," 32-year Russell revealed after he had played a leading role in last Sunday's win over Aghabullogue.

"It was great to play a small part, and the biggest fear I had was that I might leave people down after I was brought on in the second half. I suppose it went okay for me this time, but the most satisfying aspect was that we won again today to complete the most successful season in the club's history.

"I had played about fifteen minutes of football against Ballydesmond, but, apart from the hurling final, I wasn't involved in any other championship game this year, so I was obviously pleased to get a call today.

"It's a remarkable achievement to win a double for such a small parish, and the size of our panel is so tiny that almost everybody plays both games. A lot of guys travelled away this year, like Cillian Kenny and Aengus Duggan, but we are a very close group, so I wasn't going to say no to these guys when I was asked to come home again for this final."

Russell isn't quite sure what the future holds for him in terms of his playing career, and he says he will miss the buzz around Grenagh over the next few weeks.

"The main thing now is to keep players interested, to get a bit of consistency into it, and maybe we can win something again soon if the lads don't spend the next six months in the pub," he quipped.


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