No flight crew was available to replace them, US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said, so the flight was canceled about 1 a.m.
US Airways initially tried to get everyone to Ireland by routing passengers on more circuitous flights on other airlines, according to Lehmacher. Friday's daily flight was already fully booked, Lehmacher said, but many passengers took US Airways up on its offer to fly them through other carriers.
One core group of 49 fans left the airport without travel plans but returned Friday afternoon. Lehmacher said US Airways put the group in the Philadelphia Airport Marriott for the day and handed out meal vouchers before a special flight initially scheduled to leave Friday at 11:30 p.m.
"Last night was just one of those things. It kind of snowballed," Lehmacher said Friday. "The goal is really just to get these customers there tonight so they don't miss their game."
Friday afternoon, the special flight was moved to an earlier time to ensure the group would make the game. At 8 p.m., a Boeing 757 took off from Philadelphia International Airport. Flight 9010 was on its way, with scheduled arrival in Dublin at 7:45 a.m. local time.
The game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Dublin time, leaving more than six hours for the group to get from airport to stadium. If necessary, Lehmacher said, US Airways was prepared to assist in transportation.
US Airways is paying for the hotel, the extra flight, meal vouchers, and other expenses, Lehmacher said. The airline is also considering how to reimburse passengers for the "inconvenience cost" of having the original flight canceled.
"We needed to do right by this group of customers," Lehmacher said. "The important thing is to accommodate our passengers for any inconvenience and to apologize for that."
But one family says the airline failed at that mission.
Christopher McBride, 32, said he and his family were traveling as a group of nine on Thursday's flight but was never presented any options getting to the game on time. Passengers were told about the cancellation at 2:30 a.m., McBride said, and airline representatives did not offer to fly his group through other airlines by the time they left the airport at 4:30 a.m.
Friday was spent calling the airline, McBride said, but representatives continued to say that there were no options other than to fly out on Sunday night. McBride's offers to fly out on other airlines, through other cities, or even to drive to New York and fly out from that city were denied, he said.
When he and his family learned of the special alternative flight on Friday, McBride said, it was too late - the 11:30 p.m. flight had been moved to 8 p.m., and they missed it. An airline representative was unable to explain what had happened, he said, and sometimes presented conflicting explanations. She did not offer a refund or other compensation, according to McBride.
US Airways did not respond to multiple requests for comment Friday night on the McBrides' assertions.
McBride's twin brothers Steve and Andrew were part of his group; by coincidence, their birthday fell on the same day as their flight out.
"We had been planning on this for probably eight or nine months, and then all of a sudden we're sitting there and US Air drags us along until 2 in the morning and then cancels the flight," Andrew McBride said. "It was terrible."
Contact Jonathan Lai at 215-854-5151, email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @elaijuh.
Inquirer staff writer Sean Carlin contributed to this article, which contains information from the Associated Press.