Can Pat's succeed where Sligo failed and win back-to-back titles? Donall Farmer/INPHO
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Martin Russell: Bucko's right-hand man on his UCD split and playing football the St Pat's way

The champions open their title defence with a trip to Turner’s Cross this evening.

MARTIN RUSSELL HAS double vision as he renews his partnership with Liam Buckley at St Pat’s.

When he moved to Inchicore as a player 15 years ago, Pat’s were the league champions and Buckley was just starting to cut his managerial teeth in the top flight.

Now they’re teaming up again and hoping for the same result: a successful title defence, this time with Russell on board as Buckley’s assistant.

That road begins tonight with a trip to Turner’s Cross where Cork City will provide the first test of the champions’ credentials.

Russell, whose departure from UCD after five seasons in charge is still the subject of a legal dispute, is ready for a different challenge as a number two.

“Our philosophies would be very, very close,” he said.

“With Liam’s enthusiasm and wanting to develop St Pat’s, and the players that he’s got together, it’s a good football opportunity.

“This is very much a footballing side. We talk about playing through the thirds, playing with purpose, playing effective football, showing commitment to the jersey.

Martin Russell 29/8/2002 DIGITAL

“I think they were probably the best footballing side last year and you just have to continue to grow that. Liam’s ambitious that way. He’s ambitious for the club, he’s enthusiastic, he’s a good footballing person.

I’ve only been in on a few sessions but the message is quite similar – getting footballing players to play to their strengths. If you go down to St Pat’s you’re watching a footballing game and as they travel the country they’re bringing that brand with them.

“The stuff I’m hearing now is similar to the stuff I heard back then. That’s the way Liam is.”

Russell was linked to a number of managerial vacancies in the off-season but there were never any concrete offers on the table, he says.

“What I’ve learned, and what I always knew, is that speculation is one thing but actually getting offered a job is another.

“Unless you’re offered something you can’t take anything. There was speculation but never an offer.”

Martin Russell Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

As for the uncertain circumstances of his departure from UCD, he feels the college club “have a few questions to answer.”

“It may take the tribunal date to come up for those to be answered but there’s definitely issues there that have to be answered.

I’m disappointed on many different levels in terms of what was achieved and the length of service that I’ve given the club.

“Of course all things have to finish but for me, there would have been a better way of doing it.”

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