Shaking off jet lag and adjusting quickly to a foreign land, Winnipeg's Oak Park Raiders varsity football team triumphed in an unique exhibition game played in Dublin, Ireland.
"This has been an absolutely fantastic experience for the boys," said Tony Shay, a chaperone on the team and father to Oak Park linebacker Mack Shay. "Many of these boys hadn't been to Toronto let alone Ireland. The people of Dublin have done everything they could to make us feel welcome."
The Raiders beat the Villanova College Knights of King City, Ontario on August 31 by a score of 18-9 in a game played at Páirc Tailteann, a 33,000-seat stadium that usually hosts Gaelic football and hurling in Navan, a town outside of Dublin. The victory was the highlight of a whirlwind visit to Ireland that began August 25, culminating Saturday with the teams attending a game featuring Navy and the University of Notre Dame in Dublin.
The high school and college exhibition games were part of the Global Ireland Football tournament, an annual event that brings American football to Ireland. The tournament featured 10 American and the two Canadian high school teams, along with teams from Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy.
Shay said both Oak Park and Villanova started very slowly in their match, before the Winnipeg side took over the game in the third and fourth quarters. However, the result of the game was almost secondary to the cultural exchange the boys experienced.
On one day of the visit, the Canadians were shown the finer points of Gaelic football and Hurling, national sports of Ireland. They responded by showing their Irish guests some of the finer points of North American football.