Dublin 'pepped' by US influx
on 01/09/2012 00:00:00
As many as 40,000 Americans are understood to have travelled to Ireland for the game and last night a peculiar sight to Irish eyes saw 'pep rallies', or mini-festivals of organised positivity.
First up was the Navy pep rally in St Stephen's Green. The bandstand glimmered with golden brass instruments as alumni of Navy were brought on stage to whooping and cheering.
"We believe that we will win," went one ditty, and the atmosphere certainly conveyed a sense of gentle, respectful sporting rivalry.
Among those watching was Garry McConnell, a strapping veteran of the Marine Corps from Fort Worth in Texas. He had arrived in Dublin with his wife Doris. "Pretty much the only reason we came is for the game," he said.
Some of those attending today's game have based their holidays around the event, the longest-run two-way college football rivalry in American sport.
Among them were John Shidler and Jason Carley, graduates of Notre Dame.
"It's a good Catholic school," John said when asked about Notre Dame's enduring appeal. He is a season ticket holder but built a holiday around the game, taking in London and possibly Cork before flying home.
Jason said there was "a lot of uncertainty" over how the team would perform this season, but seemed confident of victory today.
Then, last night the final element of hoopla ahead of kick-off saw the Notre Dame pep rally in the O2, subtitled 'A Welcome Home'. A few of the Navy crew might argue that they're 'home' as well, but really Dublin this weekend seems like another star on the old spangled banner.