(American) Football in Ireland

 

One of the main drivers for this particular vacation was the opportunity to watch a football game in Dublin. To clarify, it was actually two football games, and it was American football (henceforth just football), not soccer. To promote football overseas and to increase tourism, Georgia Tech and Boston College held their season opener in Dublin. As an added bonus, the group putting the game together also invited over several high schools to compete as well. Our high school, Marist, was one of the lucky ones selected to play.

The high school games were played on Friday, with Marist (blue jerseys) kicking off last, at 5pm. We spent a lovely day in the city (see our previous post) and then made our way down to Donnybrook Stadium to cheer on the Blue and Gold.

The games were actually played on a rugby pitch, and it was interesting to see how they converted the field. There was a rugby game later that night, so the white marks on the field were the standard rugby ones. In a much fainter yellow, they had marked out the yard lines and boundaries. There were definitely times that the crowd had trouble telling if a player had gone out of bounds, so I’m sure it was hard on the players.

Speaking of the crowd, they were great. There were only bleachers on one side of the field (typical for local rugby), so everyone was mixed together. There were definitely pockets of supporters sitting together, but it wasn’t strictly divided. Ashley ended up sitting between two Marist moms who were VERY enthusiastic about their boys – both seniors, both in the game. The game was close for the first quarter, but Marist soon took the lead and kept it until the end (27-0). It was really a fun game to watch. Being high school, it moved a lot quicker than college (or pros), and there was lots of action – Marist caught two interceptions! It was great to see so many people come out to support the “kids”, and we had a great evening. Oh, and being Ireland, we were able to enjoy a pint while cheering on our team

One unexpected pleasure of the trip was catching up with old friends. Ashley’s parents were at the game too, so we got to spend time sightseeing with them. We also ran into an old high school buddy and his wife. She works for GT, so she was on duty frequently, but it was delightful to catch up with them whenever they had a spare minute. Last but not least, we got to hang out with an old co-worker of Ashley’s. She’s living in Dublin these days, and she had us over for brunch before the main event. She lives a literal stone’s throw away from the stadium, and it was so nice and relaxing to get out there before the crowds to enjoy good food and good company before the game.

Speaking of the game, wow. GT took the lead in the first half, but BC came back fighting. It really came down to the wire, but Tech scored with 35 seconds left on the clock. Let me tell you, the crowd went wild. Then, there was a crazy pass/run/fumble play where almost every player on the field touched the ball. The only clip I could find online really doesn’t do justice to how bizarre it looked from the stands. Aviva stadium was really cool. It’s an open design, but there is a roof that juts out over most of the seats. We were nice and dry while a steady rain fell on the field for most of the game. I can’t imagine watching a local sport there – the sound really echoed, and I’m sure a bunch of rugby or soccer fans would really raise the volume.

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