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College football touches down in Ireland

Ireland will be hosting two American football games in 2022 and 2023 as part of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic.  

The first game will involve the Northwestern Wildcats and the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where both teams will battle it out in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 27 August 2022. 

About 18,000 American fans are expected to arrive on Irish shores to watch their squads line-up on Irish turf for a pre-season game.  

Image via Unsplash.

The second game in the series was only announced earlier this month, and it involves a classic match-up between Notre Dame ‘Fighting Irish’ and Navy on Saturday, 26 August 2023, once again in the Aviva Stadium. 

“The past year and a half have been challenging for all of us in Ireland and the United States. The movement of this game to Ireland will provide a significant boost to our tourism and hospitality industries.” 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin

These games are more than just your average sporting event. According to college football Ireland, the 2022 Aer Lingus College Football Classic is expected to provide a financial boost of €63 million to the Irish economy.  

Ireland is showcased on TV to millions of Americans during the live broadcasts. 

The first game out of the five-game series is finally back on track after the disruption caused by Covid-19. Navy and Notre Dame were scheduled to compete in 2020, but after consulting with the Irish government and medical authorities, both teams agreed that allowing the games to take place would be putting public health at risk. 

Ireland will be hoping to replicate the college football series of 2012. The Notre Dame and Navy game on that occasion saw 35,000 fans travel to Ireland for the fixture. 

“It is outstanding for all involved! For the Irish, it is an ideal sports tourism event and a chance for those interested in American football to view and learn first from top quality colleges as well as high school football coaches and players,” Global Football founder and President Patrick Steenberge told The Liberty.  

“Having consecutive years of college football matches in Ireland will allow all of us organisers to gain more traction, plan ahead and provide a valuable experience for student athletes, families, alumni and supporters,” Steenberge added. 

It’s not just college football that will be showcased in Ireland: high school football matches will also be played. The Kildare high school showcase will take place on the grounds of Maynooth University in 2022.  

“This will be top quality football, just at a younger scale than the college game. Many of the players, who vary from about 16 to 18 years of age, will be hoping to further their careers in college football,” Steenberge said. “High school football is played with the same, or even greater intensity than college football, so the Irish fans should enjoy that element.” 

Patrick Steenberge pictured. Photo courtesy: Global Football

“We have had 20 schools compete in Ireland over the three events played in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and each team has had a grand cultural experience in Ireland, which overshadows the football game,” Steenberg said. 

“The Irish love contact sports, the popularity of the gaelic games and rugby are evidence of that, so American football fits nicely into those formats,” Steenberge added. 

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