UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — The John Carroll University Blue Streaks have returned home from a whirlwind tour of Ireland.
The NCAA Division III Ohio Athletic Conference football team traveled out of the country for the first time in two decades to the Emerald Isle to participate in the Global Ireland Football Tournament at Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin, which is usually reserved for Gaelic football, hurling and rugby.
Head Football Coach Regis Scafe said, “John Carroll likes these guys to experience worldly things and we are part of the Jesuits who are all over the world.”
The trip which began last Tuesday August 28th took two years to plan and was paid for almost entirely by alumni support.
For some of the players it was their first time leaving the country but for others they said it was like going home.
“There are a few of us with Irish blood in us and coming back to where our ancestors are from was really something special,” said Alex Kline, JCU wide receiver.
The game between John Carroll University (Ohio) and St. Norbert College (Wisconsin) was the first NCAA D-III regular season game to be played overseas since 1992.
Playing before a crowd of about 5,000 fans the Blue Streaks beat St. Norbert 40-3.
“It was really awesome, a lot of electricity, just a great night for us,” said Regis Scafe, JCU head football coach.
Just before the game the players got a pep talk from JCU President Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J. and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.
“We were already really fired up and he took time to talk to us and that put is over the top,” said Jarod Kilburn, JCU junior quarterback.
Monday night the team returned to campus still reeling from the adventure.
JCU Senior Wide Receiver Lane Robilotto said, “The country is beautiful and the city is outstanding,”
Players are hoping for a great year but say the trip to Ireland already made the season a huge success. The team will be back on the field at home taking on Baldwin-Wallace College Sept. 15th University Heights, Ohio at Don Shula Stadium 6:00 p.m.