Andrew Cunneen – Life after Russell at Limerick FC

Andrew Cunneen – Life after Russell at Limerick FC

NINETY-eight games; a 30 per cent win record in the Premier Division and consistent leaky defensive showings that produced just four clean sheets in fifty-three top tier games.

You may say the timing is strange, but the overall decision is not. Martin Russell inherited a team that was built by Stuart Taylor and it was still his most productive one.

Now, there's definitely reasonable arguments to be made that Taylor enjoyed a less turbulent tenure at the club, considering Russell had his budget slashed in year two (as did Taylor, to his credit), but overall, there was no progress made.

Don't let a First Division campaign fool you. Yes, Limerick won the title in some fashion and yes, going gung-ho was the way to make sure crowds were still somewhat interested in a campaign that was over before it began, but it's become clear over time that this wasn't by choice.

It's all Martin knew and there were no signs of this changing.

The first sign I saw of Limerick actually winning a game in midfield through sheer effort and grinding out a result was in Bray a fortnight ago.

I thought that perhaps it was by design and it had been worked on all week, until Russell came out and voiced his concerns about the performance afterwards.

Martin was an obliging man who really believed in a philsophy. It's a credit to him, but it's not completely applicable to a football club that depends on results. This is not UCD.

It's a not a surprise Martin Russell has brought through some of the best young talent in the country. They're forced to play ball and learn how to establish themselves as good footballers.

But as a coherent unit, it doesn't work. It was never going to work. His first major mistake at Limerick was the signing of goalkeeper Conor O'Donnell.

His biggest mistake was refusing to drop the same player for three months while Limerick continued to drop points based on his poor performances.

Yes, Martin is obliging. Yes, he was relatively pleasant to deal with and yes, I wish him well - but he was not the person to take Limerick forward.

This isn't a knock on the man and this certainly isn't a knock on his idealisms, but when you complain that your players aren't being protected by referees who should actively favour attackers to ensure the game in Ireland grows, you're clutching at straws and disengaged with the reality of management.

Russell remains one of the best attacking coaches in the country. He will get another job and he may do very well. This wasn't a fit, though.

In a rare instance, I can say that Limerick have made a correct decision at board level and should be commended for it.

There's only so many times where Plan A doesn't work until your own players will question your lack of adaptability.

It becomes mundane and it's very difficult to motivate players without specific direction in how to approach games that require different instruction.

Three thousand people swarmed into the Markets Field for a brilliant occasion. John Caulfield had Limerick measured to a tee. He was animated and barking directions at his players who were so well drilled that Limerick were suffocated. A fter the game, he bragged it should have been more. And it should have been.

Ten players in blue seemed as though they had no idea what to expect from Cork, nor were they drilled in attacking shape.

Yes, results haven't been that bad. But no, it wasn't going to get better any time soon. I wish Martin Russell well.

I wish Limerick FC well too. My opinion is that they'll both be better off without each other.