Ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl, Caley Maher asks three Limerick supporters about their fascination with American Football – and picks out some of the best places you can watch the game.
This Sunday the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will meet in Super Bowl 50 in California.
It is common knowledge that the Super Bowl is one of America’s biggest sporting events, grabbing the attention of sports lovers all over the world. The money that is pumped into the event adds to the theatrics of the spectacle. For example, for a 30-second ad spot on the Super Bowl you will have to be will to fork out $4.5 million dollars.
Throughout the country, Limerick included, in pubs, clubs, societies and homes, football fanatics will be gathering and watching the action play out into the early hours of Monday morning. The growth of the NFL in Ireland has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with many clubs and societies popping up in colleges and towns. Perhaps this has been due to videos of former linebacker Ray Lewis surfacing, or maybe it is due to all the hype about current star Tom Brady.
Either way we want to find out what it is that has Irish fans so hooked. What’s the attraction to a game us Irish have no real connection to? How has it become so big here? And where can you watch it? We spoke to some NFL super-fans and they told us how they became hooked and gave us their views on this years Super Bowl.
Raymond Burke from Castletroy is studying Financial Maths in the University of Limerick. He is a major fan of the NFL.
“My father lived in Chicago for four years in a past life so his interest in all things American introduced me to the sport at a youngish age. Madden and a few friends really got me hooked.
“I love the sport because it is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. The level of discussion, research and practice that goes into each and every play is unbelievable compared to other sports.”
“To start off the day in a great way, I will train with the UL Vikings in UL Sports Grounds. Following this, myself and some teammates will go for food before heading to Flannerys on Denmark Street for our always memorable Super Bowl party.”
“I think the Panthers will win, but I really hope the Broncos come out on top. That would be a storybook ending to Peyton Manning’s career and would really elevate him to one of the greatest players ever.”
Tommy Doyle is a student in LIT studying Sport, Strength and Conditioning so he understands what these athletes sacrifice to reach a level of fitness necessary for the hard-hitting game.
“American football is a fantastic game, it's the ultimate team sport in my opinion. Everyone has a very distinct job and they all have to work together to function properly. It's probably the only sport where a 6' 7", 350 lb. guy is just as important as a 5'9" 185 lb. guy.”
“I would love to see the Broncos win as it’s Peyton Manning’s last hurrah, but Carolina have been the best team and QB Cam Newton the best player in the NFL this season and I can't see that changing on Sunday.”
“I normally just stay at home and watch the Super Bowl every year with one or two of the lads. Really looking forward to the half time show this year as Coldplay are headlining and always put on a great show.”
“I used to watch a lot of videos online of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and that really sucked me into it. I hadn't a clue of the rules at the time but the more I watched it the more I learned and I am a huge fan now. Hoping for a better season next year from the Ravens!!”
Ian Cahill is a life coach working in Dublin but he is originally from Dromcollogher, Limerick. Ian is an avid member of the UL Vikings and lives for American Football.
“I started playing Madden (on the Playstation) when I was young with friends and learnt the sport this way. Over time I got more and more into it until it took over. It really is an addictive sport.
“I love it for main reason. The first toughness - anyone playing football is a tough human being, the sport holds no prisoners and is extremely physical. Secondly because of the mental game. A lot of people see the stop start nature of the game as a reason to not like it. Those who know the sport however realise it is done to allow for tactics to be used. The game is like a hard hitting destructive game of chess. You would not believe the time that goes into designing, teaching and executing even a simple running play.
“I’ll start the day off as I have every Super Bowl Sunday by training with the UL Vikings in UL Sports Grounds. Then head with some of my teammates for some food before making our way into Flannery's on Denmark Street for our annual Superbowl party. Which is always a night I never forget if only I could remember it.
“I think the Panthers will win this one. You never know in the Superbowl. I mean we saw one of the best Offences of all time (Denver in 2013) get annihilated by Seattle in a game that was over about 15 minutes into it. But I think with both teams having impressive defences Cam Newton and co on offence for the Panthers may prove too varied in their attack to contain and I predict a close game for the first two quarters but Carolina to pull away in the 2nd half and win it by 2 scores. 31-17.”
WHERE CAN YOU WATCH IT IN LIMERICK?
Flannery's Bar, Upper Denmark Street
Flannery’s on Denmark Street will be hosting their 10th annual Super Bowl party on Sunday in conjunction with Coors Light and the UL Vikings. On the night you can expect a great atmosphere as well as beer, burgers and a late bar.
Terrace Bar, Limerick Strand Hotel
For this year's Super Bowl, in house guests of the Limerick Strand Hotel will have a chance to relax and watch the game in the Hotels, Terrace Bar. Starting at 11.20pm, you can watch the game live on five big screens. With finger food, drinks special and a relaxed atmosphere it is sure to be a great way to enjoy the game.
Stables Club, UL
UL Hockey club are working together with the Stables Club to give students a chance to enjoy the game in the university bar. Tickets for the event are €20 and all money raised will go towards fundraising for the hockey club. Along with a ticket, you will get three drink vouchers and a chance to partake in a @Beer Pong’ competition. The bar will close at 11.30pm, but drink vouchers can be bought before that and can be redeemed before the night ends. Doors close at 10.30pm.