Despite PSU-Central Fla., Dubliners slow to embrace American football
DUBLIN — Polite and eager to share a conversation about sports with a visiting American, Daire O Maoileidigh smiled sheepishly and chose his words carefully.
On the roster of a team in Ireland's top hurling league, O Maoileidigh had just finished gushing about the “nonstop action” that's “jam-packed” into the two national sports here: hurling and Gaelic football.
The subject turned to the U.S. version of football, which the Irish people will get a rare live look at on Saturday when Penn State plays the University of Central Florida in Dublin. O Maoileidigh chuckles nervously to hide his obvious incredulity.
“You watch American football,” O Maoileidigh said. “It kind of goes: stop, put a whole new team on, then they set again and literally run for 10 seconds — and then it stops again.
“It's kind of like, ‘Why do they keep stopping? Why don't they just keep going?' ”
That seems to be the prevailing attitude on this ancient island land in the northwest corner of Europe.
Even among sports commonly known at some dispatch around the world as “football,” American football in Ireland ranks — at best — a distant fifth. Ask most Dubliners, and they'll tell you Gaelic football stands just behind hurling as Ireland's pastime, with soccer and rugby next in the nation's sporting hierarchy. Gaelic football's closest cousin, Australian-rules football, stands far ahead of the American adaptation.
Dublin is abuzz about a big football game at Croke Park Stadium this weekend. But it's not Penn State-UCF. Far from it.
On Sunday, Dublin will play Donegal in the semifinals of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Football All-Ireland Senior Championship.
“For us, (Croke Park Stadium) is the Super Bowl,” said Brian O'Sullivan, 23, a native of Waterford, Ireland. “We kind of hope these (American players) can appreciate the opportunity to play there.”
That's an opportunity stripped from some of Ireland's top Gaelic players, all of whom maintain amateur status. The other GAA semifinal, Kerry vs. Mayo, was moved to Limerick on Saturday because the PSU-UCF game necessitated a change in venue from Croke Park. It irks some Dubliners that an American football game is intruding on their most hallowed of stadium grounds during one of the biggest sporting weekends of the year.
O Maoileidigh, though, laughed that off.
“We're really the ones ‘ruining' your game, taking attention away from it,” he said. “We're blaming (American football) when we haven't any reason to.”
Some Dublin pubs show American football on television, but it's often expatriate Americans or U.S. tourists who are watching. On Thursday evening, for example, Murray's on O'Connor Street in Dublin was packed, and its TVs were tuned to the opening night of college football in the United States.
A woman identifying herself as the manager at Murray's, Jill, insisted the bar attracts crowds year-round. She conceded that the influx of Penn State and UCF fans in town inflated Thursday's business.
The GAA, which is sponsoring and promoting Saturday's game, will provide on the Croke Park Stadium scoreboard explanations of rules and penalties as they happen during the game.
“That'll probably be a fun part of the game, explaining the sport to the Irish fans,” UCF coach George O'Leary said. “They've seen it on TV, but … now they will see a game itself in action.
“It'll be an interesting day for a lot of people.”
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- $5M Penn Avenue reconstruction project is ‘killing everything’
- Controller recommends hiring to reduce 911 center overtime
- Duquesne Club seeks permission from city to keep 4 rooftop bee hives
- Threat at Sheraden school a ‘student hoax’
- Allegheny County RAD increases budget by $2.5M for cultural, recreational programs
- Beaver Co. commissioners allow deputy sheriffs to escort motorcycle run
- Former Pennsylvania civil rights investigator from Penn Hills sues agency, alleges discrimination
- Penn Hills school officials trying to correct transportation problems
- Western Pa. towns eye fees to control stormwater runoff
- Pirates rally planned for Market Square
- Bethel Park police chief to retire in mid-October