Sunday 18 February 2018

US has a ball game to celebrate July 4

Former US ambassador Dan Rooney with the ball to start the match
Former US ambassador Dan Rooney with the ball to start the match
Hot dog eating contest winner Shane Byrne pictured with our reporter Laura Butler
Rachel Maxwell and her son Jack enjoying the party
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

AS if on cue, the sun burst through the clouds as members of the Irish Parachute Club descended from the heavens to land in the back garden of the American Ambassador's residence to kick off the US embassy's Independence Day celebrations.

Proudly bearing the Tricolour as he glided from 3,500 feet on to a makeshift football field on the grounds – complete with bleachers – parachute enthusiast Tony Donnelly (45) said he was honoured and delighted to get the Fourth of July party in the park started yesterday.

"We survived another one," joked the Drogheda postman as the four-member squad battled strong winds to land in the middle of the field where they were greeted by former US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and the party's host, Charge d'affaires John Hennessey-Niland.

"It's a great occasion,"Mr Donnelly said of the fourth annual Irish American Flag Football Classic featuring American diplomats, US marines and local GAA and Irish soccer and rugby players.

Former Dublin GAA star Jason Sherlock wowed the 2,000-odd guests when he scored a touchdown within 10 seconds of getting on the field, while American ex-pats, visitors and Irish friends and families enjoyed American-style burgers and hotdogs.

And the US-style diner chain Eddie Rockets got into the spirit of '76 with a hot dog eating contest in which hundreds competed to win a weekend trip to New York for eating the most hot dogs in a single go.

The event was won by 20-year-old business and finance student, Shane Byrne from Wicklow, who was runner-up in an iron stomach challenge last year.

Irish Independent

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