Legendary Notre Dame coach makes his mark during Kilkenny visit
Legendary college football coach Brian Kelly was in Ireland last week for a family holiday just over a year from when he is due to return with his Notre Dame team to face the United States Naval Academy at the Aviva Stadium.
Apart from playing some golf, his main Irish sporting appointment was a hurling one where he met with Brian Cody and DJ Carey.
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Carey, the Kilkenny under 20s' coach, invited Kelly to the team's practice session on Monday evening, a light puck around ahead of their Leinster final on Wednesday. Carey's team defeated Wexford in the final.
Kelly spoke with the players and Carey said he could immediately feel his presence and strength in preparing a team for battle.
"Much like the top coaches I have seen first-hand like Brian Cody, Coach Kelly can make a huge impact with few words," said Carey.
Carey is no stranger to American football, getting his first real taste of it when he attended a San Francisco 49ers' game while visiting the States to play a handball tournament in 1985.
Both college football and hurling have a common ground of being amateur sports.
However, both operate like professionals in the way they prepare and also from their high attendances and TV viewing figures.
Carey admitted to being fascinated by how Kelly's responsibility for his team goes way beyond football. Notre Dame is a top academic institution and part of Kelly's role is to ensure the players meet their grades both on and off the field.
"They could have a game in California on a Sunday and despite travel and time differences, the entire team are expected to be in class first thing Monday morning. And the coach has a greater responsibility to ensure this than you would find in GAA.
"It was a great honour to meet him and he was extremely down to earth. He showed a great enthusiasm and interest in the sport of hurling and hopefully his Notre Dame team will get to experience the sport when they visit next year."
Kelly's Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy play on August 29 next year, a full eight years since their previous sell-out game on Irish soil in 2012.
The Aer Lingus College Football Series' promoters have confirmed that more than 30,000 tickets have already sold in the US for the game, 14 months ahead of the fixture.
A limited number of hospitality packages remain available via collegefootballireland.com and general tickets will be placed on sale in Ireland in March of next year.
Fans will have an opportunity to register on the website for pre-sale tickets.
Sunday Indo Sport