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Benson fully focused on Dundalk challenge

Robbie Benson of Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile
Robbie Benson of Dundalk. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Robbie Benson realises that he will spend enough of his life working the 9-5 grind, which helps ease any would-be tensions about watching his classmates get a head start on him in the world of actuary.

With a degree tucked away in his back pocket, the Dundalk attacker can continue to give his full commitment to his chosen career path but the time will eventually come when he diverges down the other road.

At 25, Benson still has his best years ahead of him but the insecure nature of the League of Ireland means that he is always mindful of the next step.

The Athlone native is out of contract at the end of the season and while Stephen Kenny has already opened talks with him about extending his stay into a third season, Benson has attracted interest from abroad.

"I'm no different to anyone in the league, if a big offer comes in from abroad, you're definitely going to consider it," he maintained.

"You see a bit more in terms of two- and three-year deals with clubs having a bit more security but I think I will only ever sign one-year deals in this league and weigh up my options at the end of each year. We're in a privileged position. I would be doing myself an injustice. To turn this kind of opportunity down would be an insult."

It helps that Benson has a prestigious degree to fall back on but he has no intention of walking away from football just yet, especially not with Dundalk challenging for honours.

He has come a long way since making his debut as an unregistered player with Athlone Town that resulted in the club having to forfeit the game against Waterford.

"I played with their youths and I remember thinking on the way down that I'd never signed any form.

"I mentioned it to an unnamed person and he said, 'Don't worry'," Benson recalled.

By his own admission, it has taken him time to find his feet at the top level but now that he has, his sights are firmly set on winning another trophy in this afternoon's EA Sports Cup final against Shamrock Rovers (3.0).

"When I was younger, I probably struggled a bit confidence-wise," he admitted.

"I didn't think I would play full-time in the League of Ireland. As I went on, you're in college, you mature as a person and I decided to take a chance.

"The last couple of years at UCD, I became a main player in the team. The turning point came when we played in Europe with UCD. I felt I played quite well against some top players.

"If I was doing that part-time, there was no reason that if I gave more dedication I couldn't improve further and I think I have in the last couple of years.

"You don't want to look back, if anyone is to move on, and your last memory playing with Dundalk is losing a cup final. Everyone in our dressing room has that hurt from last year when we didn't do the double so hopefully we can do a different kind of double this year."

Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk, Live, eir Sport, 3.0

Irish Independent

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