The Croke Park Classic

croke park classic 2014Everyone knows that my brother Jack loves American Football. We even went to the last two matches and the final of the Irish league. It’s not very surprising then that we bought our Croke Park Classic tickets as soon as we arrived in Dublin in June.

Jack and I arrived over an hour early so we could watch everything get set up. The pubs along the way from Connolly station were already brimming with people. Jack was very giddy to be seeing some ‘real American football’ – you know, played by Americans. He’s also discovered that there are three NFL matches in London this year (September, October and November) and he’s really keen to get to one of those as well.

This game was between the University of Central Florida Knights and the Penn State University Nittany Lions. Two teams from Division 1 of the NCAA FBS (National College Athletics Association, Football Subdivision). The omens were stacked against UCF from the very beginning when the parachutist with their flag missed the stadium and landed on the railway line behind it. Irish Rail tweeted to confirm he was, in fact, ok.

He got one of those nervous laughs from the crowd where it was hilarious that he missed the stadium but then everyone realised he might have crashed and the laughing stopped.

There was also a fly over by two F-16 jets that confused the rest of Dublin who had no idea what the great noise was. They also took to twitter, but I’ll spare you their confusion.

Penn State were basically leading throughout. UCF weren’t all that threatening until the final quarter when they caught up a six point deficit to lead by 1. Unfortunately for UCF, Penn State got a field goal from 36 yards in the last 2 seconds of the game and won it 24-26 to Penn State. I like a close game because it makes things more interesting, but I probably would have been more interested if I was a fan of a particular side… 🙂 Here’s the recap from ESPN.

croke park classic 2014A very abridged game of hurling served as the half time show. I wonder what those who hadn’t seen hurling before thought of the fastest field sport in the world?

I spent a lot of time looking at the crowd. There were a lot of interesting characters. We had Spiderman AND Ironman near us.

Towards the end of the game there was a bit of down time and the camera started getting crowd shots. Jack said to me, “Look there is the guy from Iowa you were talking about.” Yup, out of 53,000 people (including 20,000 Americans who travelled to Ireland for this match) we managed to find another Expat Blogger thanks to the Big Screen! Congratulations to Cory from the Narcissistic Expat Diaries: From Iowa to Ireland and his tiny little Iowa banner! I took a photo like a nerdy, blogging paparazzo since we were quite a few sections across and back. Look at the wee banner 😀 I hope it made the ESPN broadcast.

croke park classic 2014After the final second ticked by we absolutely lifted down to the station to get a DART home before the crowds arrived. I’d say we were one of the first hundred out of there. Negotiating crowds is not one of my favourite things.

Back up to Belfast on the train this morning. We’re moving into our new house on Wednesday! Hooray!



2 thoughts on “The Croke Park Classic

  1. It was a fantastic game. Sara and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly homesick- especially during the pregame ceremony with the blasting hip-hop music, huge flags, US national anthem, and the Dublin-startling flyover. As Iowa fans, we were happy to see our fellow Big Ten member PSU win on that last second FG, and the PSU folks we met were kind enough because Iowa and PSU don’t play this year.

    Thanks for the nod! Glad you had a good time, too.


    • No worries, Cory! My brother was practically in tears he was so happy. I can imagine it would have been tough with so much Americana around! We have some Penn State fans up in Belfast this evening who are very happy with the result on Saturday, of course!


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