Countless hours of work and preparation finally culminated in UCF leaving campus Tuesday evening and touching down in Dublin Wednesday morning as the Knights are inching closer to the Croke Park Classic vs. Penn State Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET.
From shipping over gear, packing uniforms, tracking sports medicine supplies, handling airport procedures and even lining of the practice fields in Dublin, there was a lot to take care of to get the Knights to Ireland. Wednesday’s successful travel day proved all of that work was worth it.
UCF landed in Dublin at 8 a.m. IST and headed over to Carton Housewhere the Knights are staying and also holding their practices. After lunch and meetings, UCF put the helmets and shoulder pads on for practice No. 1 in Dublin.
With Carton House being both a golf course and residential community, several residents and cars stopped to get a glimpse of American football as well as support the Knights. A huge contingent of media was on hand for interviews before the workout.
The star of that interview session was Cork, Ireland native and UCF placekicker Sean Galvin.
“It’s nice,” Galvin said of the attention. “But I’m a kicker, so you don’t see much attention in American football. It’s a good laugh and I got to come home, so I’m enjoying it.”
The Knights arrived in Dublin to overcast skies, temperatures in the 50s and 60s and a light mist that came and went. But nobody was worried about the weather, least of all head coach George O’Leary.
“This is football weather,” O’Leary exclaimed, when asked about Gaelic or American football weather. “This is any football weather, (which) is good for me.”
The head coach was also pleased with the Knights’ accommodations at Carton House.
“I’ve been here a couple times. It’s very nice,” O’Leary said. “They’ve gone out of their way for us. Just outstanding people. Everything’s on target with the rooms and meals. They couldn’t be more organized and detailed. This is a really unique place, because the (Irish rugby) national team practices and stays here. You can see the great facilities they have, with their fields here. It was a great opportunity for us to not get on buses to go practice somewhere. They have the meeting space we wanted. They’re just great people to deal with.”
O’Leary was impressed with the meteorological conditions and geographical location his team was enjoying in the Dublin area. Meanwhile, he has also been pleased with the way his group has been preparing leading up to their arrival in Ireland.
“I thought yesterday (Tuesday morning’s practice) was very, very, very good,” O’Leary said. “They moved very well and did a lot of good things. Monday and Tuesday were very good practices.”
When Wednesday’s practice concluded, the Knights grabbed some dinner and finished the evening with more meetings.
On Thursday, UCF will hold a morning practice session and eventually depart for a bus tour of Dublin as well as a visit to historic Kilmainham Gaol.