We love Ireland for many different reasons that I’ll probably enumerate soon but the catalyst for this particular trip was to combine our love of Ireland with our love for our alma mater, Penn State University.
Penn State opened its college football season in Dublin, against the University of Central Florida. For those of you who aren’t from the US, and even some of you who are, this whole fascination with college football must be confounding.
But for those of us who are ensnared, nothing could top this game! My husband and I have five degrees from Penn State between us—one BA, two MAs, and two PhDs. That’s a lot of years and a lot of football games attended—it gets in ones blood.
So, on the last weekend in August, we and about 20,000 of our closest Penn State friends showed up in Dublin, and what a welcome we received!
The focus of much of the activity in the days before the game was Temple Bar.
An estimated 10,000 Penn State fans showed up for the pep rally. That’s a lotta navy blue and white!
The Penn State party was held at the Guinness Storehouse. I never would’ve believed that a party of that magnitude could be pulled off without feeling crowded, without incident, and with such flair!
The game was at Croke Park—what a great place to see it! Before the game, two sky divers targeted the stadium, to deliver game balls. The one with UCF colors and flag missed the stadium entirely—do you think that was an omen?
It was a wonderful game, at least for Penn State fans. Lots of great plays, tense moments, the grim feeling that the game was lost . . . only to win on a last-minute field goal, as time ran out! Woohoo!
The kicker who made the successful field goal is Sam Ficken. My husband and I were at a game two years ago, where Penn State lost by one point, after this same kicker missed 4 field goals. From goat to big-time hero—who wouldn’t be happy for this guy?!
The city of Dublin has many new American fans, I’m sure. The people were kind and so tolerant of the hordes of fanatics dressed in team colors, behaving in odd ways. They provided at least 100,000 welcomes.
Thank you, Dublin—sláinte!