Student ambassador Ryan tells us about his sudden introduction to Irish sports:
“A Sports Fan in Ireland”
People were going insane. Screaming, singing, and fireworks filled the sky. I had no idea what was going on. It was only my second day in Ireland and the jetlag had finally caught up to me. Thankfully some man dressed from head to toe in baby blue was kind enough to tell me what had happened. The Dublin GAA football team had just won the “All-Ireland.”
I was groggy and more jet lagged than I had ever been in my life, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the hell the “All Ireland” was or “GAA football.” I knew nobody here would know about American “football” but I had assumed that “football” would mean soccer. I had so much to learn! Thankfully many were kind enough to explain what had happened, what Gaelic football was, what it meant to the Irish, and more importantly what the sports landscape in Ireland looked like.
Fast forward 4 months, and I am slowly but surely “coming along” as all my friends here would say. The Gaelic sports of football and hurling still are somewhat foreign to me, but I have completely embraced the immense passion of rugby and football (soccer) fans. In fact, I’m hooked. Soccer was quickly becoming one of my favorite sports back in the US but my new love for rugby may have eclipsed that.
I’m not sure I could have tried to pick a better time to move to Dublin as sports fan. After the All Ireland final, the entire country was again filled with a buzz as Ireland took their place on the world stage in the Rugby World Cup. It was incredible. After watching 5 minutes at a friend’s house I was hooked. I have now spent far too much of my free time watching rugby, and understanding the ins and outs of the sport. My only issue now is choosing who I want to support for the Heineken Cup. Half of my friends have been adamantly trying to convert me to become a Munster fan, while the others are always pushing Leinster on me.
Nothing however compares to the latest event here that has the entire country on cloud nine. Ireland reached the 2012 Euro Finals (soccer that is!) for the first time since 1988. The best part is I was there!! I cannot even begin to describe what it was like in the stadium: the singing, cheering, and dancing went on for hours on end… well after the match was finished.
It makes it even more exciting to know that I will be here over the summer as Ireland tries to make it out of the group stages. I cannot wait to see how it will play out.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the sports scene when I chose to come and study in Ireland for the year. Yet, all my expectations have been exceeded and I’m not even halfway though the year yet. Stay tuned!