Russell’s Kingdom career looks to be over

MIKE FRANK RUSSELL has opted out of Kerry’s Championship plans for the rest of the season, all but bringing to an end an inter-county career which produced five All-Ireland senior medals with the Kingdom.

The 31-year-old Killorglin man says he will concentrate on his club Laune Rangers for the rest of the year, but insisted there may still be a return to inter-county colours in 2010.

However, that looks a long shot at this stage, with Russell more and more a peripheral figure over the last couple of campaigns.

However, that doesn’t diminish his impact for the county over the last 12 years since he burst onto the scene as a teenager in 1997, when Kerry put a barren 11 years behind them to claim their 31st All-Ireland title against Mayo.

Russell scored a key goal in the semi-final that year against Cavan after being introduced as a substitute. He was a central figure in Kerry’s All-Ireland success against Galway three years later, and won an All Star in 2000 for his efforts. He also won All-Ireland medals in 2004, 06 and 07.

Russell won two All-Ireland U21 medals with Kerry, and has the rare distinction of scooping a clean sweep of All-Ireland medals by the time he was 21 – minor, Under 21 and senior with Kerry, All-Ireland club with Laune Rangers and All-Ireland colleges with Intermediate School, Killorglin.

A naturally two-footed forward, he was regarded as one of the most clinical finishers of the last decade.

Meanwhile Waterford could have suffered another crushing injury blow with fears growing that joint-captain Stephen Molumphy has sustained cruciate knee ligament damage.

Latest indications from the Déise camp are that the team’s other joint-captain, Ken McGrath, will be doing well to return by mid-August but if Molumphy’s worst fears are realised, he will miss the remainder of the season.

McGrath underwent surgery on a cartilage problem last week and faces at least another six weeks on the sidelines while team medics are waiting for the swelling on Molumphy’s knee to go down before he can be properly assessed.

The versatile Ballyduff clubman is hoping to undergo an MRI scan either today or tomorrow before he will be assessed by knee specialist Tadhg O’Sullivan early next week.

Molumphy was forced out of last Saturday’s Munster SHC semi-final replay at half-time and manager Davy Fitzgerald is now facing up to the prospect of being without both of his joint-captains for the glamour final showdown with Tipperary on July 12.

Fitzgerald said: “We’re not 100% sure about Stephen until Wednesday or Thursday of this week. We have to wait for the swelling to go down but it’s suspected ligament damage and of course, we’re worried about it.”

Kevin Moran is also facing a race against time to be fit for the Semple Stadium decider after he was forced out of the Limerick game in the closing stages with ankle ligament damage. Fitzgerald is also concerned about defender Noel Connors, who took a late blow to his arm during the first half.

Meanwhile Offaly senior hurling manager Joe Dooley has reported some serious injury concerns ahead of their All-Ireland qualifier game against Cork on Saturday week.

Corner back David Franks suffered a collapsed lung after receiving a knock in a recent challenge game while Rory Hanniffy has suffered a recurrence of a knee injury. James Rigney (shoulder), Daniel Currams (thumb) and Cathal Parlon (knee) are also unable to train this week due to injury.

Elsewhere Galway wing-forward Damien Dunleavy has been ruled out of Sunday’s Connacht SFC semi-final against Sligo. The loss of Dunleavy is a blow to Liam Sammon’s men but Joe Bergin is fully fit after a knee injury interrupted his championship preparations. Midfielder Barry Cullinane is also available after missing the opening round win over London.

CAVAN (SFC v Antrim: J. Reilly; M. Hannon; D. Sheridan, M. Brides; J. McCutcheon, E. Keating, P. O’Reilly; N. Walsh, C. Galligan; S. Brady, R. Flanagan, C. Mackey; S. Johnston, R. Cullivan, M. Reilly.

WEXFORD (MH v Laois): M. Fanning (Glynn-Barntown); W. Devereux (St. Martin’s), M. O’Hanlon (St. James’), A. Nolan (Taghmon-Camross); C. Goff (Oulart-the-Ballagh), J. Gordon (Shelmaliers), B. Barron Capt. (do); B. Doyle (do), M.Maloney (Kilmore); D. O’Keeffe (St. Anne’s), C. Doyle (Glynn-Barntown), I. Byrne (Ferns-St. Aidan’s); L. Óg McGovern (St. Anne’s), P. Farrell (Faythe Harriers), B. Carton (Cloughbawn).

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