Tuesday 6 December 2016

Razzmatazz is order of the day as US sports fans fly in

Published 04/09/2016 | 02:30

Patrick Gamble and Freddie Burden of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets receive the trophy from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, after the Aer Lingus College Football Classic match between Boston College Eagles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Aviva Stadium Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Patrick Gamble and Freddie Burden of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets receive the trophy from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, after the Aer Lingus College Football Classic match between Boston College Eagles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Aviva Stadium Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Crowds in Ballsbridge are used to seeing an oval ball being flung around the Aviva Stadium, but many may have been bemused by the extra padding, yellow goal posts and the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner before kick-off yesterday.

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Thousands of American sports fans jetted into Dublin to see Boston College take on Georgia Tech in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic at the home of Irish rugby and soccer yesterday.

Cheerleaders from Boston College Photo: Sportsfile
Cheerleaders from Boston College Photo: Sportsfile

Georgia's fans left happiest after 17-14 win in a close-run contest.

US commentators admitted the match itself was anything but a classic, with poor weather making conditions trickier for the emerging US sports stars on show. However, those close to the event said it was about much more than football.

With pep rallies, cheerleaders and tailgate parties before and after the kick off, the day was about much more than the events on the pitch.

Around 800 American football players, cheerleaders and supporters paraded down O'Connell Street in the rain to kick off this weekend's celebrations.

High school students also got involved, holding their own games in Donnybrook on Friday night with proceeds going to Special Olympics Ireland - the event's official charity partner.

Boston College president Fr William Leahy, whose family originally hails from Killarney, Co Kerry, said it was a way to cement Irish-American relationships.

"You look at the American businesses that have offices and branches in Ireland, Google, Facebook, pharmaceuticals. There has been a lot of interchange, no question.

"I think it is of utmost importance that we have this kind of interface and contact face-to-face.

"When you have people face-to-face, it adds another dimension and the interaction that comes out of it is priceless," he said.

Sunday Independent

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