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Vendor applauds staff for serving free beer at Big Ten game in Dublin

Nebraska fans did more cheering before the start of a game in Ireland against Northwestern, as shown, but not as much once it ended. (Peter Morrison/AP)

Perhaps the only people unhappy about all the free beer that flowed Saturday in Dublin during the Nebraska vs. Northwestern game might have been officials with the catering company in charge of food and drink. On Sunday, though, they applauded their staff at Aviva Stadium for making sure “the fan experience was upheld.”

The stadium’s vendor, Levy UK + Ireland, blamed the situation on a technical issue with its payment provider that prevented card transactions from being processed for two hours.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this caused customers,” a Levy spokesman said in a statement, “and would like to thank our employees at Aviva Stadium for the spirit they showed in keeping everything going.”

Word quickly spread in the first half and before long lines began to grow at concession stands. It wasn’t just beer that was handed out, but everything available, including food.

The Omaha World-Herald reported at least one fan coming away with seven beers and many others opting for a more manageable four. French fries — or chips, as they are called on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean — proved a popular item, as did hot dogs.

“Nothing is free in Ireland — but this is!” exclaimed a Dublin native attending the game, per the newspaper.

With the college football season set to begin in full next week, the Cornhuskers and Wildcats were among a handful of teams playing Saturday, and their tilt was by far the most prominent matchup. The matchup of Big Ten programs, squaring off before a listed 42,699 fans in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, was the only power conference showdown on the “Week 0” stage.

Unfortunately for Nebraska and embattled coach Scott Frost, the Wildcats pulled off a second-half comeback and got a 31-28 win. Helping Northwestern’s cause was an unsuccessful onside kick attempt by the Huskers after they took a 28-17 lead in the third quarter.

If that decision by Frost was unexpected, the same could be said for the prolonged period during the game in which food and drink were given away to anyone willing to queue up for it. For the Nebraska fans who made the trip to Ireland only for a disappointing result, there was at least some silver lining — not only did they receive free beer, but time spent on the concourse was time not spent watching another loss unfold following last year’s 3-9 season.

Attendees and staffers at the game weren’t the only ones affected. Levy, the catering company, said the third-party issue extended to elsewhere in Ireland and even beyond the country.

“Our team at Aviva Stadium were extremely quick to ensure that the fan experience was upheld and food and beverage kiosks were kept open serving customers for the entirety of this period,” Levy said in its statement. It added that after its payment system returned to operational status, fans “continued to enjoy the College football event.”