Pompoms and fighter jets at the ready for classic
THE game isn't until tomorrow but the Americans have landed and the party has started.
Pompom-toting cheerleaders, majorettes, marching bands and mascots from two American colleges brought more than a little noise and colour to lunchtime in Dublin yesterday.
They are among more than 25,000 fans who have travelled across the Atlantic for the first official game of the US college football season.
Croke Park will host rivals Penn State and University of Central Florida (UCF) tomorrow, with as many as 35,000 Irish expected to attend as well as the travelling support.
Organisers say the 'Croke Park Classic' will be just as high-tempo as the street performance that took place in the CHQ building and Grafton Street yesterday.
And millions of TV viewers across the States will be tuned in when a parachutist descends from the skies with the ball for the kick-off. At the same time two F16 fighter jets will be flying overhead.
The game is a follow-on event from the 2012 Emerald Isle college football clash between rivals Notre Dame and Navy at the Aviva Stadium. It is expected to generate more than €30m in tourist spending , said Croke Park Director Peter McKenna.
Cheerleaders play a big role in keeping the crowds entertained during American Football matches and the UFC squad, tiny black and gold team skirts, gave a hint of what can be expected at the game.
Not to be outdone, rivals from Penn State strutted their stuff in their trademark blue and white costumes to military precision accompanied by the lively drum and brass chords of the PSU Marching Blue Band.
Taking to the microphone like a seasoned rapper, Penn State management student Jared Hagerman, (20), whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
"Some people are kind of weird about it," he said of being a "male cheerleader" "but once they see what we do, they're cool about it," he said.
UCF cheerleader Damion Thompson, (20), from Orlando, said he played football until he went to college but finds cheerleading just as physically challenging. "We get a lot of respect back home for it," he said.
The teams will host pep rallies today and a pre-game "tailgate" party in Temple Bar.