Brian O’Sullivan – Experience Gaelic Games
A debate that has gripped every parish in Ireland is being put to rest by TV 3 on March 9th.
TV3’s THE TOUGHEST TRADE will showcase how ex-professional footballer David
Bentley and baseball star Brian Schneider will fare in the Gaelic world.
For many years the Gaelic populace, have wondered how professional sportspeople, from
different codes would fare in the bustling life of a GAA player. The debate is just about to be
In a ground breaking venture, Armagh Gaelic footballer Aaron Kernan and Kilkenny hurler
Jackie Tyrrell will do a direct swap with Bentley and Schneider and will also test themselves
in unfamiliar territory. Kernan will do a stint training with Sunderland FC while Tyrrell has
to make do with a trip to Miami and train with the Miami Marlins.
The GAA is no stranger to breeding sports stars for rival codes. Niall Quinn and Shane Long
starred as hurling prodigy’s before becoming professional Footballers at the highest level.
Tony Grealish played Gaelic Football at Wembley Stadium before leading Brighton & Hove
Albion to a Cup final there a few short years later. Kevin Moran, Neill Lennon, Martin
O’Neill, Steve Staunton and rugby international Tomas O’Leary to name but a few led Gaelic
careers before becoming professional sportsmen.
Kevin Moran is a prime example. Moran won two All-Ireland Senior Football
Championships with Dublin in 1976 and 1977 before signing on at Manchester United in
1978. His Gaelic career had one more twist. A Dublin delegation persuaded, Red Devils boss,
Dave Sexton to release Moran for the 1978 decider with Kerry, which he duly obliged to.
Unfortunately there was no fairy-tale end for Moran. Dublin’s three in a row dream was
shattered despite a wholehearted display from the man who would go on to win two FA Cups
along with seventy-one International Caps from the Republic of Ireland. When Moran
returned to Old Trafford, battered and bruised, Sexton quipped ‘what sort of Football do ye
play in Ireland’.
David Bentley will find out in due course, and with no better club than Crossmaglen Rangers,
six-time All-Ireland Club Champions. Bentley, who lined out with Blackburn Rovers and
Tottenham Hotspur in an eleven year career, will also have to do a day job with Kernan
Property Services before training and playing with Aaron Kernans club in the evenings.
It is a very potent gesture by Crossmaglen Rangers, taking a former English International
under their wings. Few clubs, if any, suffered more during the Northern Ireland conflict than
Crossmaglen Rangers. Based in the heart of nationalist, South Armagh, Crossmaglen Rangers
grounds were located next to the British Army Barracks which overlooked the town.
Naturally relations were never pretty between such neighbours.
Bentleys welcome to Crossmaglen showcases that the great divide that existed within GAA
circles is well and truly a thing of the past. Up until 1971 no GAA player was allowed to play
Soccer or Rugby and as late as 2001 no British Army Personal or PSNI officers were
permitted to play Gaelic Sports.
While Bentley heads into the Gaelic World, Arron Kernan travels to the North East of
England to test himself against the professional stars of Sunderland FC. Kernan who
collected four Ulster titles in a ten year career is no stranger to training like a professional.
His commitment to Armagh and Crossmaglen have always been run professionally, the one
quam is that Gaelic sports stars like Kernan do it for the love of their race and pride of place.
Heart of Kilkenny
Brian Schneider has led a unique baseball career taking in stints at the Expos, the Mets and
the Phillies he will now line out with the Village. Based in the heart of Kilkenny City, James
Stephens, nicknamed the Village, are one of the top hurling clubs in Ireland amassing three
All-Ireland Club titles. It is a club rich in history supplying such stars as Brian Cody, the
Larkins, Eoin, Paddy, Fan and Phil, Joe Hennessy and Jackie Tyrrell whom Schneider will
exchange roles with.
Tyrrell, who has collected an astonishing eight All-Ireland medals, will in turn travel to
Major League franchise Miami Marlins and pit himself against the fast pitchers of the
Baseball world. It is a unique experience for the teak tough Kilkenny defender; when Tyrrell
won his first All-Ireland for the Cats in 2003 Marlins were on their way to winning the World
Twelve years later Tyrrell will be put to the test – can a hurler compete with the Pros of
Major League Baseball? In reverse Brian Schneider’s challenge is to compete with the
hurling master-crafts from Kilkenny.
Hurling in Kilkenny is like Soccer in Brazil or Cricket in India. It incorporates every facet of
life in the county. Schneider will get an exclusive taste of this at James Stephens. How will
he match his catching skills from Major League Baseball with the array of skills Hurling
incorporates? It makes for great entertainment!
Ever wanted to try your hand at an ancient sport like Hurling or Gaelic Football? Experience
Gaelic Games are at hand to extract the gameness of your chosen sport; be it Soccer, Rugby,
Cricket, American Football, Basketball, Baseball or even Polo, to immerse yourself into the
spiritual and passionate world of Gaelic Games. Take the trade for the day and come play!