Notre Dame senior forward Ryan Ayers will be contributing periodically to Irish Insights as the Irish travel to Ireland for an exhibition summer tour. He speaks with Michael Rothstein daily to give updates, which you find here. This is the final installment of his blog, as Ayers begins school at Notre Dame on Tuesday. There's a good chance, though, Ayers will contribute to Insights periodically throughout the basketball season. So stay tuned for that.
Sunday was our last day in Ireland. We had the whole morning off and all we had to do was meet in the lobby at 2 p.m. because we were headed to a Gaelic Irish football game, which is a huge tradition in Ireland. It was a semifinal, like the NFC Championship, the Eagles vs. the Bears. Cork was playing a team called Kerry, two rival counties. It was a huge game at Croke Park, where Notre Dame played in '96 versus Navy. We walked in and everyone was either painted in green and yellow or red.
Our favorite was the Cork team, because they were the underdogs. I bought a Cork jersey and a couple other guys bought one, too, so we were all decked out in red trying to root for the underdog. It was a different game, in front of about 60,000 fans, everyone had drums and had a blast.
It kind of reminded me for a Notre Dame football game. It kind of got us excited for the football season to get underway.
The game consisted of having to dribble or kicking it. You only get three or four steps. It's kind of like rugby in a way but you kind of shoot it, there's like a field goal and a regular soccer goal. If you hit it in the soccer goal, it's three points and if you kick it above and through the uprights, it's one point. Most of the points are through the uprights.
(Eds. Note: For a good read and a better understanding of Gaelic football, Insights recommends "Ireland's Professional Amateurs," a book going inside a season of the game. It's worth a read if you're looking for insight into the sport.)
Whenever anyone scored a goal, the place went nuts. It's pretty hard to score a goal that way. It's like soccer and handball all into one. It was awesome. There's hitting involved, guys were getting thrown out of the game. It was real intense and guys really got into it.
Kerry was up really big in the last seven minutes and we all figured the game was over so we wanted to walk back and go shopping for the day. Right when we were walking out, Cork made this amazing comeback and tied the game.
It was an amazing comeback and some people watched it on TV and said it was awesome. We missed the comeback. It was 15-8 with seven minutes to go and we figured it was over so we wanted to beat the rush out of there. A lot of people left with us. The Cork team, in red, ended up coming back.
I didn't realize Dublin was so big. It's several million people and I didn't realize it was so big. We walked through all of Dublin and saw several different sights, not just the area we were in. It was a huge city so it was pretty sweet to see that.
We got back and I was able to do some shopping, get some things done. It was kind of a leisure day. Coach (Mike Brey) gave us the whole day off to tour the city.
We got dinner and everyone kind of got individual dinners there. I went to an Italian place across the street from the hotel which was really, really good. Then we continued to walk around some more, toured the city a little bit to take advantage of our last night there. We spent some time with Kyle's best friend from back home, Michael Mastrangelo, who was having his last night there, too.
We had a really good time. Of the 13 guys that went over, 12 had never been to Europe before. It was a good thing to see and the experience was awesome. I met so many nice people and nice fans.
In closing, I just want to thank everyone who tuned into my blog and forwarded it to my family and everything like that, I really appreciate it. And the fans of Ireland as well, they accepted us warmly and it was a great experience. We won all of our games and it was a great thing and it was a bonding experience that we'll never forget.
And you can go online to und.com and see pictures. It was a great experience but it is good to be back.