“I’m a natural athlete,” sand Angelo Mangrio. “Just so natural.”
Penn State’s ability to learn a new sport on the fly was on display. All of the players tested their skill at hurling, the sport with the stick, and Gaelic football.
Locals were impressed with how quickly the Nittany Lions adapted to the new sport.
“Oh these guys are brilliant! Brilliant!” said Brian O’Sullivan, who was brought in to teach the team the sports. “I think it took me about 10 years to strike the ball. And one guy did it in about 10 seconds and he put it there in about south county Dublin. So they've been brilliant and a great crack as well.”
Of course the players’ main focus is on the upcoming season opener.
Head coach James Franklin says this is far from a bowl trip. Very few extra fun events have been added to the itinerary, and Thursday was a rare exception.
“There's some unique things we want them to experience when it comes to Ireland,” said Franklin. “Sports are very, very important in this country. So I think this whole thing has been surreal in a lot of ways.”
While the players had a little fun, Franklin praised their work so far since arriving Wednesday morning.
Franklin has been focused on how to call a game to help ease the development on an inexperienced Penn State offensive line.
“I haven't had time to coach up the Irish about our game,” said Franklin. “I just hope they come out and enjoy it. I know how much pride they take in their games. And this is obviously our game.”
The people who taught the Nittany Lions these games Thursday hope it only adds to the appreciation these players have for taking the pitch in Croke Park on Saturday.
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