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The Irish in Ireland: Day One

Aug 30, 2012, 1:42 PM EDT

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After checking into the hotel and grabbing breakfast, the Irish headed downtown this morning, where the equipment crew and student managers got the locker room set up for Saturday and the team worked out on the practice pitch adjacent to Aviva Stadium.

Notre Dame got a quick look at the field where it will meet Navy on Saturday, but it had not yet been prepared for kickoff when the Irish first arrived. As a matter of fact, the grounds crew was beginning to paint the lines, just as practice started next door.

It was a brisk morning, with temperatures in the high 40s/low 50s, a nice change of pace from the hot August weather we have been getting back in South Bend.

After practice, University Vice President/Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick caught up with graduate student offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. for an interview segment that will be featured in his upcoming radio show.

Head coach Brian Kelly and the four Irish captains also met with the media, including both local and American reporters. From the moment we stepped off the plane, it’s been clear that this game has generated a lot of buzz in Ireland, and it was interesting to hear some of the questions asked today. Have a listen below…

Following practice, the team went to Taylors Three Rock where the players and coaches enjoyed a meal, as well as traditional Irish music and dancing. At the end of the performance, the dancers dragged Jordan Cowart, Romeo Okwara, Troy Niklas and sports nutritionist Erika Whitman up on stage to join in the finale. It was entertaining, to say the least.

Between players and coaches singing and clapping along, and the musicians and dancers demonstrating incredible passion for their work, it was impossible not to be moved by the performance. For me, there was at least one moment during the dance routine that was truly goosebump-inducing. I’m not sure if it was the performers’ talent that struck me, or if it was the realization that I’m in Dublin. Probably a combination of both.

All in all, this has been an incredible opportunity for everyone involved, and this afternoon was just one example of special this trip has been.

It was a long day, and it’s an early bed check for the Irish, but remember to stay tuned to Twitter and UND.com tomorrow for more coverage from Dublin.

For now, here’s a two-minute recap of the day, from the Fighting Irish Digital Media crew.

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