The Super Bowl brought us two amazing stories involving Irish supporters, the first being the two Irish lads who managed to sneak into the game and the second being the supporter in the Cavan jersey who was picked up by Sky camera's during the game before exploding over social media.
Balls talked with Niall O'Riordan, the proud owner of the Cavan jersey, today and his story is a remarkable one.
Travelling to America Ticketless
Niall had gone over to the Super Bowl to celebrate his 40th birthday, which had occurred the week before, with a strong lead on a ticket having spent six months trying to source one through contacts in New York, a city he used to call home. It was only on hearing the confidence of the lead that the ticket would come through that Niall decided to book his flight to Phoenix.
He was also without accommodation, thinking smartly he got in touch with members of the local Irish community online and it was a Phoenix Irish bar, Seamus McCaffrey's, whose manager was all too happy to put him up for his trip. Not only was he provided with accommodation but a leading member of the local Irish community even collected Niall from the airport when he landed last Friday.
Partying With The Arizona Cardinals
Niall went to Seamus McCaffrey's that night for a few beers and with the manager busy, got talking to a two friends of his host. The bar was only two blocks from the square hosting the Super Bowl fanzone so the trio decided to go up and have a look around, the pair knowing someone who worked in a coffee shop on the square. On visiting the coffee shop the friend working there told them to go upstairs as there was a Super Bowl Party going on;
Next thing I'm at a party hosted by Sam Acho, the Arizona Cardinals player, with a balcony overlooking the fanzone, Jordin Sparks was there having sang the national anthem at the pro-bowl the week before."
A Jersey And A Cardboard Sign Secure A Ticket
The lead on the ticket however was quickly evaporating. The contact stopped responding to Niall before he travelled and on meeting him in Arizona made it clear that the ticket was no longer available due to the sheer demand for tickets. Niall thus woke up on Saturday feeling down, although he had a night to remember the day before, the reality of having travelled that far and not having a ticket set in. He had even come across two Irish fans from Boston who were willing to pay $7000 per ticket and couldn't manage to find any, it began to look like he'd be watching the game on TV.
He woke up on Sunday morning and just before heading out for the day, was handed a cardboard box by a waitress in the bar on which he wrote 'travelled from Ireland, need 1 ticket please'. He headed out for the day with his Cavan jersey on, crucially with the number 12 on the back.
I'd seen a good few people with similar signs but mine was unique. And then I had the Cavan jersey on me as well, Tom Brady is meant to have Cavan connections and I had the number 12, Brady wears 12, all the Seattle fans wear 12"
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Jersey and sign on board, Niall headed to a shopping centre, home to a number of bars, close to the stadium. People there however had no intention, for the most part, of going to the game, they went to soak up the atmosphere before watching the game in one of the pubs. Think he'd try his luck as well as taking a break for a beer, he tried one of the bars. He wasn't counting on a $200 cover charge however and that left him in a catch 22 situation. He wanted to hang around outside and try get a ticket however if he waited too long the bars would be full up and he'd be left with nowhere to watch the game. He decided to walk away from the bar to chance his luck elsewhere.
I didn't walk 50 yards before a fella came over to me and offered me a ticket."
Taking Katy Perry's Seats
The red-headed American who offered him the ticket, at face value, was going right then and needing to match each ticket up to a credit card, Niall went with him to the stadium. They were in before it was filling up and with time on his hands he went right up to the railing at the front to have a look and take some pictures. It was there he saw Sky Sport's Neil Reynolds had set up pitch right in front of the railing. Niall got chatting away to Reynolds and made such an impression on the Sky presenter that he passed on his match notes to him after the game.
@ballsdotie sure I was working for Sky #whatagame pic.twitter.com/Zg9HkWyyK9
— Niall O Riordan (@DJBegby) February 2, 2015
Niall decided to try his luck staying where he was, with loads of other people standing also and with people constantly leaving their seats to use the toilets and bars there was always a seat which he could occupy for a few minutes. Before he knew it the first quarter had passed and he'd yet to be moved. His next goal was to stay there until half time and the Katy Perry Show, content if he was moved after that having spent the first half in some of the best seats in the house.
Sky Pick Up The Jersey, Social Media Explodes
He made it to the half-time show, the now famous golden Lion which Katy Perry rode in on even entering the pitch just yards from Niall. The show came and went and Niall noticed a whole row empty near where he had been. The previous occupiers of the seats were Katy Perry's friends and family it turns out, with them gone, he was free to take one of the seats. That's when he was picked up by Sky. His phone then lit up, thanks in part to free wi-fi in the stadium, with messages from home alerting him to his new found fame.
The best was yet to come for Niall, however. unbeknownst to him when he took the seat, the game would be decided right in front of him by way of Malcolm Butler's interception. The play will go down as one of the biggest of any Super Bowl. It was in all senses, the perfect end to what had been a simply incredible day and one he admits went beyond his wildest expectations.
Asked whether he wore the jersey to try and get a ticket, Niall says it was more a case that he wanted to be wearing it in pictures from the event should he have managed to get in.
An event which he has had as number one on his bucket list for some time. He was also hopeful the jersey would instigate some conversation in his hunt for a ticket; which it did.
There was a good few Irish people on Saturday night about and every now and then you'd hear 'Hey Cavan'!
Without the jersey I wouldn't have gotten a ticket for the game, without a doubt"
It's one of the best stories we've heard in some time. Many thanks to Niall for talking to u
See Also: We Can’t Stop Watching Tom Brady And Pete Carroll’s Reactions To That Super Bowl Finale
See Also: The Two Irish Lads That Snuck In To The Super Bowl Explain How They Did It
Pictures Credits; Niall O'Riordan