Penn State football team savors cultural experience of Ireland trip
College Football Videos
DUBLIN — Judging by their repeated answers to questions about enjoying Ireland and its culture while overseas for the Croke Park Classic this week, players received James Franklin's message loud and clear.
“This is a business trip,” countless Nittany Lions parroted in the weeks leading up to Saturday's game against Central Florida.
For about an hour late Thursday afternoon on an artificial turf field at University College Dublin, though, Penn State's players were allowed to be kids again.
“It was really cool,” linebacker Mike Hull said of tutorials in Gaelic football and hurling from players in the top leagues of Ireland's flagship sports. “We all like playing sports, and we all always made up sports like that growing up. It was a lot of fun.”
The tone was light and the mood as bright as the sunshine that bathed Dublin — a rarity in a nation known for overcast skies that left Penn State and UCF players wet during practices Wednesday.
A portion of Thursday's Lions practice, which Franklin described as “full speed,” was watched by athletes from Ireland's top hurling and Gaelic football leagues.
Following a presentation — the American and Irish athletes left with a gift of a jersey from their counterparts — Penn State's players were broken into groups and given quick lessons on the basics of Ireland's national pastimes.
Some of the teachers came away impressed.
“It took me about 10 years to actually strike the ball (properly), and some of these guys had it down in about 10 seconds,” said Brian O'Sullivan, a corner-forward hurler who plays for his county team and the Ballygunner GAA club.
Hurling features a field hockey-esque stick and a ball that has an appearance of a baseball. The ball in Gaelic football looks and feels a lot like a volleyball and needs “dribbled” down the field.
“You take four steps before you have to,” Penn State safety Adrian Amos said.
“It's like a mixture between a lot of different sports — volleyball, you dribble, so basketball, football, handball. Everything.”
After trying out the fundamentals and doing mini-skills contests in one of the sports — and then switching to the other — Penn State players were treated to a skills exhibition from the “pros.”
Lions erupted in awe at shots fired at speeds they estimated at more than 100 mph.
They got even louder, when the goalkeeper made saves — one with a bare hand.
Franklin and PSU assistants and staff members watched, interacting with players of all three sports at times but primarily sitting back and letting them enjoy themselves.
Soon after, Penn State had a group dinner at the Guinness Storehouse. UCF's off-field activities Thursday included a bus tour of Dublin and a visit to the historic Kilmainham Gaol prison.
“Just to see the architecture and the age of some of these buildings and see the age and culture of this old country is nice,” UCF coach George O'Leary said.
Franklin said after a day of jet lag, his players had adjusted to the time change Thursday, and practice tempo reflected that. PSU has a bus tour of its own of Dublin — beginning at 400-year-old Trinity College — planned Friday.
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.
- Elsie Hillman, philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse, dies at 89
- Steelers defensive end Tuitt shifts into high gear
- Rossi: Pirates foolish to bet on Burnett return
- Suspect in Dormont robbery caught after he falls into storm-swollen creek
- Westmoreland girl tells trooper a stranger fondled her in Herminie alley
- Steelers notebook: No decision on surgery for rookie CB Golson
- Man accused of killing Brookline woman denied bail
- Steelers’ Mitchell taking cautious approach about dealing with injuries
- Rain postpones Pirates-Cubs game
- Perfect storm rains heroin, pain pills onto Mon Valley
- Homeless man who stabbed 3 in Pittsburgh Target store going to mental hospital before prison, judge says