By Paul Holland
Midfielder Seán Russell made his league debut for UCD at the age of only 16! The 23-year0old from Lucan played for Lourdes Celtic before signing for the university team. Seán also played for Longford, Shelbourne, Louisville City FC (USA) and spent two years at Limerick.
He lined out for Ireland’s Under-18s, who were managed by the ex-Drogs manager Harry McCue. Seán’s father is Martin Russell, an outstanding footballer who played in England and Ireland and who has recently managed Limerick and previously UCD. Séan’s wonder goal for Drogheda against Sligo on his debut last month, is already being tipped for Goal of the Season.
Last week’s game against St. Pat’s was much improved on recent games.
“Yes we got at them and could well have snatched a draw with Adam Wixted’s goalbound shot being saved in the last few minutes. We showed no fear in the second-half and caused them a few problems.”
I don’t think many footballers will score a better goal than yours on your debut in Sligo. It is already being tipped as the goal of the season and has featured on many websites and YouTube. Pete even joked that you should retire as you will never score a better goal!
“Yes it was nice to score in my first game for Drogheda but it would have been better still if we came away with the three points!”
How do you remember scoring that goal?
“I always keep an eye on the keeper and whether he is off his line or not. I didn’t even have to take a touch as the ball just sat up for me. I had seen that Micheál was off his line. I just hit it and was delighted that it went in!”
You look very confident on the ball. Were you always that way?
“No, not always. I can remember times when I would be afraid to shoot as I doubted myself at times. Sometimes a goal can lift my confidence and raise the bar for myself.”
You had spent a while in America before signing for us?
“Yes I played with Louisville City FC from January to May of this year. It wasn’t for me and I found it very hard to settle there. I was very happy to sign for Drogheda after firstly training with the club for two weeks.”
Your previous club Limerick is in the news this week, as they have released some quality players, such as Robbie Williams, Paul O’Conor and Ian Turner, just as they are losing games (0-3 to Derry on Monday), only a point ahead of Finn Harps and are now drawn into the relegation battle. What do you make of the events there recently?
“I think that things are very strange there at the moment when some of the best players have left and very few, if any, coming in. Robbie Williams is an outstanding defender and for him to sign for Cork in the circumstances, just doesn’t make sense if Limerick want to stay up. Paudie O’ Connor (Leeds United) always singled out Robbie as the biggest influence on his career.”
There’s a big difference in Limerick’s style of play, between current manager Neil McDonald and his predecessor, Martin Russell.
“When I was there we were always encouraged to get the ball down and play attractive football, based on a good passing game. Nowadays the midfield is being bypassed with a more direct style of football to get the ball up to Tosi. Good players like Lee Lynch and Shane Duggan are not getting as much of the ball.”
Did you enjoy your two years in Limerick?
“Yes it’s a nice city and nothing like the way the media present it at times. I lived with Dean Clarke and Paul O’ Conor and had some good times there.”
You went to the same school in Lucan as our left-back, Conor Kane, a great prospect for the future. You both played for the Irish schools team, at different stages.
“Yes Conor and I went to Coláiste Phádraig in Lucan. Andy Boyle (Preston North End) also went there. Conor is doing great and is still only 18 and will do well if he keeps working hard.”
Your dad, Martin, was an outstanding player with StPat’s and Portadown, but also played with Middlesbrough, Leicester and first signed for Man United no less! He has managed UCD and Limerick and has been assistant manager at St Pat’s. How has he influenced your own career?
“He has always advised me in a positive, constructive manner. Some kids are pushed too much nowadays. He has always let me develop in my own way. All his brothers have also played the game so football is often the only topic of conversation in our house!”