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Irish fans revel in team getting to title game

– It was hard to find a seat at Duty’s Buckets Sports Pub & Grub on Monday night – the BCS national championship game was on – and it was almost impossible if you were rooting for Alabama.

But Aaron Desmonds had an in – his brother, Andy, who happened to be rooting for Notre Dame.

“I went to Purdue, so anyone winning the championship game but Indiana or Notre Dame I’m good with,” said Aaron, 27, of Kendallville, who then pointed to a imposing figure about 10 feet away.

“And in case things get too rowdy in here, I brought my friend, this big guy over here. He’s on my side.”

After Alabama got out to a three-touchdown lead by the first play of the second quarter – en route to a 42-14 victory in Miami – it became clear the heavy wouldn’t be needed to protect Aaron, who wore a green Notre Dame shirt with an X taped over it. On the tape was written, “Roll Tide, Go Bama.”

Even though Notre Dame didn’t fare well, just being able to watch it play Monday was gravy for most Irish fans. Their team hasn’t won a national championship since 1988, had never been to a BCS title game and began the season unranked.

“This has been a good time,” said Andy Desmonds, 28. “This season wasn’t expected. We thought they were a few years out from being the team that they are. It turns out they did well enough to get to this point and it’s been exciting.”

But what about the loss?

“I’ll still be OK because there’s still IU basketball to follow,” Andy Desmonds said. “I went to IPFW and there’s no football team there, so I get to pick a football team and that’s Notre Dame. I have a degree from IPFW from Indiana, so that gives me the basketball in.”

Fans like 52-year-old Mike Chandler of Fort Wayne, however, are for the Irish through and through.

“This night means a lot,” he said. “It’s been awhile, and they were due for this. I’m a big fan and it’s such a big game. … I do deliveries and I was out delivering today. I had my Notre Dame jacket on and people would say, ‘Hey, nice jacket.’ They had their shirts on and their flags flying. We were wearing it proudly.”

Chandler said the highlight of the season was “the excitement and the thrill” of seeing the Irish go undefeated before Monday.

Andy Desmonds said the best part was seeing “all the close wins, like the one against Pitt and the Purdue game. Those teams had a chance but in the end, you knew who was going to come out on top. It was like Notre Dame played down to their level and gave them false hope, only to say, ‘Sorry, you’ve got to go home packing.’ ”

He smiled at his younger brother, the Purdue fan, as he said that.

But Aaron Desmonds got the last laugh.

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