What a trip.
The Penn State football team crossed the pond to take on Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, and the Daily Record/Sunday News sent journalists Frank Bodani and Jason Plotkin along for the ride.
It was an action-packed five days that included Gaelic football and hurling, an American high school football game, culinary exploration, a pep rally, some fun and games with the people of Dublin and, oh yeah, the main-event football game in historic Croke Park.
Throw in a five-hour time difference, and you might have missed some of the awesome coverage from Frank and Jason. Here are some of my favorite scenes from the trip. What was your favorite?
No. 1: Can the Irish speak Pennsylvania Dutch?
This video is hands-down my favorite part of the trip. No question.
No. 2: The many faces of Franklin
We already knew James Franklin was an emotional guy. But I don’t think we had any idea just how expressive he’d be on the sidelines.
Related: This video, which could be titled “James Franklin hugs everyone: The story of Frank Bodani’s Croke Park footchase”
No. 3: Gaelic Games
This one makes the list because of how much fun the Nittany Lions had while learning the traditional Irish sports of hurling and Gaelic football.
No. 4: The unexpected heroes of the game
Coming in, Frank suspected Penn State’s offensive line would be the deciding factor in the game. The linemen are young and there’s not a lot of depth because of injuries. Yet the line held strong, giving quarterback Christian Hackenberg time to become the first Lion to pass for more than 400 yards. I love this shot for showing Hackenberg going high to escape UCF coverage.
Another unexpected hero: Receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who hauled in 11 receptions for 165 yards. He gets bonus points from me for his slick glasses and hair style.
And, of course, you can’t forget about Sam Ficken. Kickers face arguably the most scrutiny and pressure of any player on the field, and Ficken came through with the last-second field goal to win the game.
No. 5: Rallying pep, York County fans, and a dancing leprechaun
The streets of Dublin turned blue and white for the Nittany Lions’ pep rally. It featured comments from Dallastown grad Ben Kline, who’s sidelined by injury.
More local connections: Dillsburg’s Carol Phipps showed off her Nittany Lion manicure before the big game.
And you can’t have a Dublin wrap-up without an Irish jam band and a dancing leprechaun.
No. 6: Frank finds food
On the Penn State football beat, Frank is known for arranging culinarily explorative meals among the reporters and photographers who travel with the team. So it’s no surprise that Frank and Jason set out to find out more about Irish cuisine.