Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

“Ball handling tough” says David Bentley

“ “Handling of the ball was the hardest aspect of the game” former England International soccer player David Bentley told the Examiner before leaving the pitch after playing a full game for Crossmaglen Rangers as part of “The Toughest Trade”  an AIB initiative which will be aired on TV3 at 10pm on Monday March 9th.

In 2013 AIB began a campaign that has successfully positioned the GAA Club Championships as “The toughest of them all”. This has led to the AIB GAA Club Championships now being the most recognized GAA sponsorship in Ireland. But for 2015, AIB wanted to see how #TheToughest compares to other club games around the world. With its winter schedule, the constant pressure of knockout matches, the small playing pool and the fact that some of the biggest names in GAA still haven’t won a club medal, could the GAA club game be the toughest in the world. There was only one way to find out, so they invited the English footballer David Bentley and All Star baseball player Brian Schneider to live the life of a GAA club player with Aaron Kernan and Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny hurler) trading their GAA clubs for Sunderland FC and a Major League Baseball club respectively.

David arrived in Crossmaglen last Monday to work at Kernan Property Services Ltd where Aaron is Managing Director, train and play for Crossmaglen Rangers. Accompanying Photos show David training hard on Tuesday night some 24 hours before he made his debut at Keeley Park, Silverbridge where he donned the Crossmaglen Rangers number 11 jersey in a match with Silverbridge Harps.

The 30-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn and Arsenal winger, who retired from football last year after claiming to have “fallen out of love with the game”, marked his debut with 3 points, an excellent one from play and 2 frees. Since his retirement last June, Bentley has opened a restaurant in Marbella and could have marked his GAA bow in spectacular fashion with a “hat-trick of goals” shooting two wide and hitting the butt of the upright with his clearest goal chance.

Showing some good touches and a keen sense of being able to find space, David was kept on his toes by his team managers Oisin and John who urged him forward at every opportunity. David who played the entire game, off loaded a few hand passes that in a championship encounter had “hospital” written all over them, but overall adopted well to his first game of Gaelic Football and did not look out of place.

The large crowd who attended thoroughly enjoyed what they saw as Rangers emerged match winners on the night.

After the match the Peterborough native, chatted and posed for photos before heading for the dressing room to get ready for the after match celebrations. The man doing the swop with David, Aaron would have to cut those celebrations short, he had a Thursday 5 am start as he headed off to Sunderland.

The insight from both players on their experiences will be eagerly awaited on TV3 at 10pm on Monday March 9th.