96. The big day finally arrived. The start of Penn State’s 2014 football season and our match (not a game; we’re in Ireland now) against University of Central Florida, at Dublin’s Croke Park.
Where, I might add, our season opener’s priority in Croke Park meant that the replay of a(n Irish) football semi-final had to be relocated to Limerick. I bet a lot of locals weren’t pleased about it, but I’m hoping the ridiculous infusion of tourist dollars helped soften the blow.
My merry band of PICs partook in pre-game festivities at three designated bars in the Temple Bar district — Fitzsimons, Porterhouse, and The Norseman — where, rumor had it, fans could collect different commemorative pins.
We cheerfully collected our first two pins then arrived at the Norseman to get the third, only to receive a duplicate. When I asked a bartender whether there were different pins he told me that there had been a different one that the bar had given out the day before (rule breakers). My eagle eyes spotted one of the coveted pins on said bartender’s shirt. At which point the following exchange may or may not have occurred:
Me: Do you want to give me your pin?
Me: stink eye
Bartender: hands over the pin
Next, the merry band of PICs, my collection of three different commemorative pins, and I made our way to Croke Park for what turned out to be quite a nailbiter. In the last two minutes we were down by one, cheated out of a critical six seconds leaving just three on the clock, then miraculously scored a field goal and won the game by two points!
First I enjoyed a delicious soft serve ice cream cone (which they just sell in convenience stores here, which is grand).
97. Next we enjoyed food and beverages at Madigan’s Pub, a fine establishment with a lovely manager named Jerry.
98. Then onto another pub, the Cobblestone, where we hoped to enjoy live music. It had the live music but lacked seating close enough to hear it. Ah, well, fortunately we met three fine Irishmen who were nearly as entertaining — Rob, the writer; Stuey, the motorbike messenger; and a third, the media correspondent, whose name I didn’t catch.
And now it is time to rest up; Guinness tour tomorrow. Also, I keep dozing off and writing things like “dzazs.”