The referee who had his notebook slapped from his hand by Paul Galvin has paid tribute to the Kerry star following his shock inter-county retirement.
Tipperary native Russell was refereeing the 2008 Munster SFC clash between Clare and Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney when he dismissed Galvin for a second bookable offence.
Russell was preparing to issue Galvin with the second yellow card when the Kingdom star lashed out and slapped it out of his hand.
But Russell insisted last night that he has no axe to grind with a player he acknowledged could be “hot-headed.”
Russell said: “What happened, happened. I wish him the best of luck. I would always say that I considered him a great footballer. He was a bit hot-headed at times but in saying that, he was a great footballer.
“You couldn’t take that from the man. Look at Roy Keane, for example. A great footballer but he could just lose it like that.”
Ironically, Russell met Galvin on the Thursday before the game in Dublin to shoot a promotional GAA advertisement for Vodafone.
And Russell, a two-time All-Ireland SFC final referee, recalled: “I spoke to Paul Galvin a few days before and he was grand to talk to, no problem at all with him. That was the first time I met him and it was gas that it was the Thursday before we were up there and it was on the Sunday that the match took place.”
Russell added: “I had him booked. I couldn’t do anything, once (linesman) Mike Meade called me and told me the two of them (Galvin and Clare’s John Hayes) were pulling and dragging each other, I had to issue a yellow card. There wasn’t anything major in it but he (Galvin) just flipped.”
Russell confirmed that he has never spoken to Galvin since and that the player did not contact him to issue a personal apology.
Russell added that the weeks that followed the Galvin incident were difficult and that he felt a degree of humiliation whenever he saw a picture of himself bending down to pick up his notebook.
Russell explained: “For me, the pictures of me and Paul Galvin, with me picking up the book, I didn’t like it at the time. Every time Paul Galvin’s name was mentioned, this photograph was shown. You would probably expect an apology from the man but he did come on out on the TV to apologise.”
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