Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says "I’m not a big fan of playing football games in Ireland"
“Emerald Isle Classic” vs Navy an incredible logistical challenge for team and coaches
While hundreds of thousands of fans wait in eager anticipation of the September 1st game between Notre Dame and Navy in Dublin, many of the Notre Dame coaches can't wait until it's over.
According to an article in the Sun Times, the once-in-a-lifetime game is "a once-in-a-lifetime headache" for those running the day-to-day operations of the program.
"I love everything about Ireland," said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. "I’m not a big fan of playing football games in Ireland."
Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame's athletic director, said, "It is incredibly challenging. The logistics of it are something else.
"Not every 18-year-old has a passport. So you start with basic things like that — we have to get everyone a passport."
Besides passport issues, organizers have to worry about everything from making sure ND players have the kinds of meals they're used to eating to dealing with the soggy Irish weather.
Director of football operations Chad Klunder and equipment manager Ryan Grooms have been working on these issues and more since May, when they took a scouting trip to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
The team hotel worked on ‘‘Americanizing’’ meals, while event organizers will provide outlet adaptors for every room in the hotel, every headset in the press box and every piece of equipment on the sideline.
However, there are 28 locker stalls in the Irish locker room for about 100 players. The offense will use that room, probably doubling up each locker while the defense will be in an auxiliary room next door.
Notre Dame even requested that six "Hall of Fame" lockers be taken down to make more room.
The laundry situation is also uncertain, so the team will simply pack a different workout outfit for each player for Thursday and Friday, along with the game uniforms for Saturday.
Grooms, who is concerned how well the field will drain in the event of rain, will be packing at least two different types of cleats for the the grass.
"If you get one of those soaking games, it can make a bad day for the equipment guy," Grooms said. "We’re hoping for sunny skies in Dublin."
The team leaves next Wednesday night, arriving in Dublin early Thursday.
The team's cargo load weighs between 15,000 and 20,000 pounds. The Irish began forklifting the load onto their chartered, 300-seat Delta Airbus 330 on Wednesday afternoon at the South Bend airport.
Coach Kelly originally scheduled early-morning practices last week to get his players acclimated to the time difference, but then switched to afternoon practices for the week with early-morning workouts to begin next week.
‘"We know our clocks will be all screwed up when we get over there," said lineman Zack Martin. "And we need to be prepared for it."
Grooms is glad the Ireland trip is the season opener and not midseason, when he wouldn’t have training camp to prepare. However, he admits that like Kelly, he wouldn’t mind never having to do this again, either.
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