Nittany Lions learn to play football, the Irish way

Video posted August 29, 2014 in


DUBLIN – For at least half an hour at University College Dublin, hurling sticks and Gaelic footballs replaced shoulder pads and pigskins.

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It’s a business trip for Penn State, which opens its season Saturday with Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic. But, at least two days from kickoff, a few minutes of fun could still be had.

“This is a game,” Franklin said. “There’s some things we want them to experience when it comes to Ireland…”

A round of applause from the players assembled behind him stopped the coach’s answer. They had just learned that, before touring and eating dinner at the Guinness Factory, they would play Gaelic sports.

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Some athletic staff had experienced the demonstration with Experience Gaelic Games while on a planning visit in April.

This was the first time, though, that owner Georgina Caraher had put on a demo with as many people, and ones as big as those on Penn State’s roster.

“What they would have a problem with in hurling is agility,” Caraher said. “They are super fit, but Gaelic football and hurling, it is constant action and there is a huge amount of movement.”

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“We’re bowled over,” Caraher said.

It was day two of four the program will spend in Dublin. The program has elected not to hold a walk through practice at Croke Park despite UCF planning to do so, Franklin said, adding everything has gone according to script so far.

Penn State practiced at walk-through pace Wednesday, but turned up the speed Thursday as it went back to its regular practice schedule.

“We got really good work done,” Franklin said. “Mother Nature cooperated. The weather is beautiful.

“I think the guys have had a good experience.”

(Greg Pickel (writer), Joe Garofalo (video), Mike Esse (video) and Kelsie Netzer (photos) are students in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.)