DUBLIN, Ireland — Notre Dame’s players flew into Dublin more than 48 hours before their game against Navy. They flew on a cushy chartered plane from an empty airport and have had police escorts everywhere they’ve gone.
And the Fighting Irish thought it was pretty rough.
So imagine what it was like for Loyola. The Ramblers flew commercial — some direct, some through connections — and they landed the morning before their game against Dallas Jesuit. And the Garda was nowhere to be found.
“This is a special group of kids,” coach John Holecek said. “They get it, they’re smart. They appreciate it and they know what they’re getting into here.”
When Friday’s game ended, the players’ disappointment over the 30-29 loss was tempered a bit by the excitement of finally getting to enjoy Ireland. Because for the first two days, “It was all football,” Holecek said.
The team will attend the Notre Dame-Navy game on Saturday, and will get a tour of downtown Dublin and the Irish countryside.
For senior Luke Ford, the trip’s even more special. His mother parents immigrated to the United States from Ireland, and his mom — Geri Gaughan — still has cousins in the country.
“You can tell she’s Irish from the name,” Ford said. “It’s like it’s in Gaelic already.”
The team got a brief taste of Dublin on Thursday evening when they and the nine other high school teams playing in Friday’s Global Ireland Football Tournmaent were given a parade through Trinity College.
“It was amazing,” Holecek said.
Now that the game’s over, Holecek hopes they make the most of their two free days.
“Now we can take a breath,” he said. “We’re here two more days. Keep your head up and let’s enjoy ourselves.”
Said quarterback Peter Pujals: “We’re excited. It would have been better with a win, but it is what it is. Hopefully we can enjoy this experience, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”