Up to 35,000 Americans set to visit for Notre Dame game


UP TO 35,000 Americans are coming to Dublin this weekend for one of the most talked about games of the US college American Football season. But coaching staff from one side have said the trip is causing them headaches, while the other has had differences with the American Football authorities in Ireland.

The Emerald Isle Classic between US teams Notre Dame and Navy kicks off at the Aviva Stadium at 2pm on Saturday, marking the start of the football season.

It is being presented by The Gathering Ireland 2013 and marks only the second time the two teams have met outside of the United States, having played each other in Croke Park in 1996.

The game is being played in Dublin as part of a TV deal signed with CBS and is causing headaches the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” team said they could do without. Speaking to a local newspaper in Chicago, head coach Brian Kelly said he loved everything about Ireland but was “not a big fan of playing football games” here.

The athletic director of the college football team, Jack Swarbrick, echoed his concerns describing the event as “incredibly challenging”.

Notre Dame’s coaches expressed concern about general issues such as jet lag and the Irish weather, and specific issues such as quality of the grass at the Aviva and the number of lockers there. There are only 28 lockers in each dressing room, while the typical American Football squad is made up of close to 100 players.

A dispute has broken out, meanwhile, between the Navy side and the Irish American Football Association (IAFA), a voluntarily run body that regulates the sport in the Republic.

The IAFA told The Irish Times last night that the US Naval Academy, or Navy, had promised to help with developing the sport at grassroots level here and had promised to fund a flag football league for young people, as well as a donation for football equipment for Irish universities. The value of the support was put at €75,000.

However, Navy’s athletic director Chet Gladchuk denied making any promises and said the IAFA did not have authority to sanction the game. “Do you think we need their advice?” Mr Gladchuk said to the Navy Times.

“We do that for a living here. We’ve been running football for 130 years, as has Notre Dame. We certainly don’t need a parochial association in Dublin to give us advice how to conduct a Navy-Notre Dame event.”

He said the academy would try to “appease or accommodate them to whatever the degree” but would not allow them to secure unjustified resources.

Terry Jones of the IAFA said that while he was disappointed with the stance taken, the IAFA would not seek an injunction to have the game halted.