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Kerry and Dublin Players Face Off On US College Football Field

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Kerry and Dublin Players Face Off On US College Football Field

Dublin and Kerry both have a pretty stellar reputation when it comes to sports - gaelic football, hurling, camogie, rugby, both counties have an enviable track record of wins. So perhaps it is no surprise that both counties now also play home to two of the brightest new stars on the US college football circuit.

On September 25th Ben Kiernan of Dublin and Kerryman David Shanahan faced off on the field at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia in what was the first time ever two Irish footballers played against each other stateside.

Before his move across the pond, Kiernan had previously been playing rugby with his secondary school Blackrock College.

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"I continued playing rugby here but I figured out that rugby can only take me so far in the US, so I picked up football," Kiernan explained to RTÉ.ie. The player's family relocated to North Carolina in 2015 in order to find the best specialist care for his sister, who has cerebral palsy.

The move led him to a new sport to conquer but it took some trial and error to understand where his strengths lay.

"I played a whole bunch of positions. I figured out that I didn't know the rules for everything and I was just running out there looking for the ball, doing what I could and then on the last day of try-outs in my first year playing our coach lined us up near the sideline and one-by-one everyone kicked the one ball and I was the last person to kick the ball and I hit it the furthest of anybody."

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"My coach just kind of looked at me and said, 'Yeah, you'll be kicking for us for this year," he recalled.


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Shanahan, on the other hand, began his dream in Australia where he had been playing for at Prokick in Melbourne. After spending some time there honing his kicking skills, he received a scholarship to Georgia Tech and flew out in June 2020 to take the next step.

The difference between moving from Ireland to Australia versus Ireland to the US is stark, Shanahan says.

"The cultural adjustment from Ireland to Australia was a lot easier than Ireland to America. I don't really know why," Shanahan explained.

"It might be because in Australia they have AFL, and AFL and GAA are so similar and the culture around them is so similar in the sense that the locker room and dressing rooms are all the same and it's all bantering and stuff.

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"You get that here as well but it's just a bit different and the culture around the whole American football is just so different to anything I've been around. In Australia, they've got rugby and stuff as well.

Shanahan and Kiernan's success to date is already inspiring young Irish guys with aspirations of playing US football it seems.

"Last week when I tweeted the picture (with Shanahan) out, that got a little bit of attention, I probably had 20 kids going to my Instagram to send me a message asking me how I did, they're playing American football over in Ireland and I had no idea that we had American football teams so when I saw that happen I was a little bit blown away," says Kiernan.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter

Topics: Ireland

Gary Grimes
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