It was wet, I mean Noah and the Ark wet! I had never had the opportunity to enter the Aviva Stadium on a Photographers Pass so I was a little excited.
I was heading to the Aer Lingus Classic American football game. As I pulled into BallsBridge to try and find parking it was not looking good.
'Mental note... leave earlier next time Phill'.
Finally I found a spot. The rain was bucketing down at this point. It was ok though because like the good Scout I am, I had come prepared with rain legs and jacket... in the boot!
'Mental note... don't leave rain gear in the boot, you need to go out into the rain to get them Phill'
I hopped out of the car and ran to the boot to get my gear. It was wet and very slippy. As I came around the rear of the car I slipped and landed on my backside in a puddle.
'Mental note... don't run in the rain Phill'
'Oh, and next time bring spare pants!'
As I stood up I realised it was not only raining outside but there was now rain water running down the inside of my leg. I was ready to go home. At least no body saw me (well other than than the hundreds of supporters making there way to the game).
Slowly I worked my wet legs into the rain gear, slung my camera gear over my shoulder and headed off to the Aviva collecting my Photographers pass along the way...
Once I had made my way into the press entrance and along a dark concrete tunnel I realised I hadn't a clue where I should be going. It didn't matter though, It was exciting.
Inside I stumbled upon a larger curved tunnel. I had seen this before... this was where the team busses drove under the Aviva. Making my way along the tunnel I picked up a sidekick. Sean was working the game for a sports photography agency and it was his first outing on his own. He was just as wet as me except he had the added worry of carrying a very large and VERY expensive lens that he had borrowed. He was looking for a black sack to cover his lens from the elements #GOODIDEA #WHYDIDNTITHINKOFTHAT
'Mental note... next time bring rain gear for your very expensive equiptment'
We finally made it to a set of large glass doors. It was the players entrance. Beyond it, the tunnel leading out to the pitch. I can't think why but it was exciting. Myself and Sean made our way up to the door which was housing 4 security guards dressed in black suits. One of them took one look at our Aviva Press pass and told us "no media beyond this point, players only'. I felt like I had ordered Ice-cream and dropped it on the floor!
Then it dawned on me, I still had my pass from the pep-rally party in the Guinness Store House from two days previous. I had been asked to photograph the event for the organisers.
Before I even knew what I was doing, I told the security guard I was the Official Photographer and Sean was my beautiful assistant. Sean looked at me as we passed through the doors. It was clear he was holding his breath but couldn't keep the smile from his face. 'I can't believe we are in here... thats the dressing rooms... eh whats your name by the way!'
Maybe it was because I was drenched and cold and the game hadn't even started but I was obviously subconsciously in survival mode and looking at the first rule of survival... SHELTER. I chatted with the other guards ensuring that when the rain got too heavy by the pitch I had somewhere to retreat too.
As I settled in my Phone rang. it was one of the organisers asking if I had made it to the game. When I said I had he told me he needed a Photographer and came to meet with me. It was clear we were in a rush. 'Phill do you know the way to the Presidential suite?' eh No! Next miniute we were running up flights of stairs taking the steps two at a time. It was like something out of a Dan Brown novel. I was carrying about 10 kilos, drenched to the bone and I still hadn't a clue what was going on. There seemed to be parties happening on every level. When we finally reached the Presidential suite, Joe informed me that the Taoiseach wanted photos. As this was happening a tall man in a dark suit walked up to me. Without introducing himself, and in a strong American accent he asked;
"Are you the photographer?"
Now, I probably should have mentioned that at this point I was carrying 2 large cameras completed with lenses and flashes, a camera bag on my back with a 3 foot tripod not to mention I now had TWO Photographer credentials slung around my neck!
"Na just a hobbiest' I replied smiling.
Clearly missing the joke, he stared through my skull for what appeared to me an eternity before repeating,
Are you the photographer?"
"Yes, I am the photographer"
"The ambassador Mr. O'Malley would like a picture on the playing field with the Marines, can this happen"
"Yes of course" I replied
'Mental note... The next time your are asked to take pictures of Mr. O'Malley, find out who he is or what he looks like!'
The next thing I knew the Taoiseach was breezing past me surrounded by security and joined by the heads of both colleges. The chase was on and I was on the back foot!
I learned very quickly that in a situation like this its 'go big or go home'... this was not a place for a shrinking violet. As we reached the pitch It was a free for all as the other photographers jostled for position to get their shot. I had always wanted to play Rugby on the hallowed Landsdowne Road and it seemed today was to be my first scrum.
My focus for the rest of the day was not on the actual game but what was going on around the edges.
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