Penn State’s overnight sojourn to Dublin – a bus ride to Harrisburg and flight to Ireland – began Tuesday evening. Like most of the rest of the trip’s itinerary, it’ll be all business.
“Get as much sleep on the plane as you can,” running back Bill Belton said. “That’s basically it.”
Led by edict from coach James Franklin, Nittany Lions players have repeatedly referred to their four days in Ireland as “a business trip.” Although the team will take a group bus tour of Dublin and have a team dinner at the Guinness Storehouse, players know what will make the rare European excursion most memorable is by beating Central Florida at Croke Park Stadium 1:30 p.m. (Irish Standard Time).
Of course, the trip begins in earnest with the charter flight – some seven hours over the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s a little challenging for bigger guys of our stature,” the 6-foot-3, 309-pound center Angelo Mangiro said. “(But) there is a benefit to doing it at night.”
PSU’s plan was to depart after an early-evening practice Wednesday. That, theoretically, would lead to tired bodies – all the better to fall asleep early, which is desired because of the five-hour time difference. The team is arriving early in the morning IST – which will feel like the middle of the night in Pennsylvania for the players. They’ll be quickly put to work upon arrival, the goal being to fall asleep at the proper time Wednesday for a “normal” Irish day.
“I’m definitely planning on trying to get as much asleep as I can on the plane,” Mangiro said.
Franklin estimated that 80 percent of his players were making their first overseas trip. It’s doubtful none have done so as recently Mangiro, who spent a week in Italy with his girlfriend in May.
Although everyone figures to be eager to touch down in Ireland, one player might be more relieved than most.
“Deion Barnes doesn’t like flying,” Belton said. “He just was complaining about how long the flight is.”
Belton added that Barnes “will be all right.” I only hope I can say the same.
Me? I’m far from a 300-punder… but at 6-5, I’m not looking forward to my quasi-overnight flight being squeezed into a window seat.
Then again, I’m going to Ireland – the homeland of (one quarter of) my ancestors. I won’t complain.