John Carroll quarterback Jarrod Kilburn is blogging the Blue Streaks’ trip to play St. Norbert in Ireland. This is his entry from Thursday, the day before Friday’s game:
Today started with a wake-up call at 6:45 a.m. (Dublin time) and then breakfast shortly thereafter. Pretty similar to an American breakfast, except here the bacon is more like pounded ham. An interesting, but pretty good, difference. Once we finished, we loaded the bus around 8:15 and traveled to the University College Dublin for today’s practice. This one was especially cool because there were four other teams on four other fields right next to us at the same time, something that we’re not accustomed to. After practice, we showered and walked the campus of UDC where the Vice President gave us a brief talk about the school and the graduate programs that they offer around 12:00 p.m. Lunch came next, which introduced us to Irish chocolate. It was unbelievably good and pretty funny to see a bunch of college football players acting like kids trying different types of candy bars and going crazy over them. Strength and conditioning coaches everywhere would have cringed at the display. I’m pretty sure I ate as much or more candy than I did for lunch.
When finished around 1:00, we walked back across campus and bused to Donnybrook Stadium, the rugby pitch that will serve as our stadium Friday night. At that point, everything surrounding this whole trip sunk in – we really were in Ireland to open up our 2012 season as part of this amazing event. I was so excited to finally take the field for the first time and took something like fifty pictures of it from all different angles and locations. The field was nice – stadium seating on St. Norbert’s sideline with standing room only seating behind ours, and grass that was in pretty good condition. It won’t be much of a change for us from our turf back home, which certainly helps when you’re the away team. From there we bused to Trinity College, the premier school in Dublin and maybe all of Ireland. The campus was gorgeous and awesome to see first-hand, especially since it housed the Book of Kells and the library that was featured in the most recent “Star Wars” movies. Unfortunately, everything that we saw on the tour we will have to recall from memory as taking pictures wasn’t allowed.
Shortly after finishing the tour and checking out the book store, we walked from Trinity to a street in downtown Dublin for the parade to kickoff GIFT 2012 at 3:00. All twelve teams and their respective bands and cheerleaders marched in it and it caused the majority of streets in the area we were in to be completely closed down. At first, I was a little skeptical of how the parade would be received since American football is nowhere near as popular here as rugby or Gaelic football. However, once it started I was amazed at the turnout and reception — it was packed! Parents, alums, and Dubliners alike lined the sidewalks to capture all the action and show their support. I did as best I could to both soak in the moment and make sure that I took enough pictures to remember it. I think it’s safe to say we left the parade with a slight edge in the eyes of the Irish thanks to the little vinyl footballs the school provided us to throw out during it. Never underestimate how crazy people will go for promotional items. The parade wrapped up back at Trinity College with a rally. All teams sent a player representative with the head coach up to the stage to be honored while delegates and organizers talked about the event. It was unbelievable to have everyone in one spot, especially since we were able to mix in with the other teams and get to know some of their guys.
Once the rally ended, we bused back to our hotel for dinner at 8:00 and then straight to a team meeting at 9, which to say was inspiring would be an insult. Coach Scafe got us so fired up we were ready to go out and play the game on the 18th fairway right then. St. Norbert’s has been all we’ve been thinking about since our season ended last year and excited can’t begin to describe our team’s sentiments about the game tomorrow. It’s going to be hard sleeping tonight, that is for sure. 7:30 p.m. tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
More on the John Carroll-St. Norbert game in Dublin: