Potentially, it could have been a bit gimmicky but when David Bentley went full in with Crossmaglen last year, it had everyone hoping that the Toughest Trade was going to become a regular thing. Sure enough, AIB have brought it back this year and it's the turn of former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Roberto Wallace to test out the thin line between professionalism and amateurism on which the GAA treads.
With Aidan O'Shea having been shipped off stateside in the past couple of weeks to take a crack at American football, Wallace took the All-Star's place in the Breaffy forward line for a challenge match against Parke Keelogues Crimlin at the weekend. We've already had a bit of an insight into how the game went but now Wallace has spoken of the experience and it's fair to say that there's a fair bit of a difference between Miami and the heart of Mayo.
Wallace captained the side and lined out at full forward. Although he's decent at hitting the crossbar he unfortunately didn't get his name on the scoreboard but nonetheless, Breaffy ran out 4-12 to 2-6 winners and it was certainly an experience for the 29 year old.
As tends to happen, Wallace's respect for the fact that his teammates had to go away and earn a living elsewhere was clear. However, we're guessing that the Breaffy pitch was something that might take a bit of time getting used to for someone who's more familiar with the perfectly manicured surfaces in the NFL.
The guys only have so much time in their day to practise and train and play. They still have to work and go and earn their money. It’s definitely a different experience for me. I haven’t played in any kind of field or pitch like that.
I definitely have a new appreciation for the sport. I keep stressing it’s not easy. It’s tough, it’s consistent movement, running for 30 minutes, there’s no time-outs, no breaks. It’s a tough sport, you’ve got to be able to run in that, bounce in that, shut a guy off and kick the ball or punch it, whatever you have to do to get it in.
The Toughest Trade will air on RTÉ 2 in March ahead of the AIB Club Championship finals.