Steve O’Rourke is a writer whose work appears in The 42, an Irish sports website. He has been covering the development of the Georgia Tech-Boston College game in Dublin and is someone I’ve traded e-mail with over that time. Steve graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the game and American football in Ireland. You can read Steve’s report from Thursday here. Read to the bottom, and you may be pleased (or perhaps dismayed) to know that level-headed and thoughtful commenting is not confined to the States.
1. Who will be putting the game on?
It’s a new company called Irish American Events Ltd which is a joint venture between an events management company — Corporate.ie (who were involved in the Notre Dame/Navy and Penn State/UCF games) — and a travel company called Anthony Travel. They provided all the packages for Notre Dame in 2012.
2. What is the interest of Ireland, or Irish sports agencies, to bring college football there?
It’s a big money spinner. You’ll hear figures like €100 million and €56 million (US$111 million – $62 million) bandied about but really the games are worth about €25 million ($28 million) to the local economy. The hope is not to attract about 25,000 US fans to the game, but also 10,000 European fans who may have missed out on tickets to the NFL games in London (about 30 minutes from Dublin by air).
It is hoped fans coming from the US for a few days for the game will come back again in the future for a longer vacation.
3. What is the interest level of Dubliners in American football?
Pretty high actually. Local fans made up about 40% of the attendance at the last two games and will do the same in 2016. Your readers may be surprised to hear there’s actually a decent American football league in Ireland — I used to coach in it myself — and lots of people travel to London for the games there as well as travel over to the US for NFL games.
College football has something of a cult following and a lot of people LOVE the GT offence in particular so they’ll be looking forward to that. Personally I’m a Boise State fan and I hope we get them over here some day so we can paint the town — and the turf — blue.
4. For fans considering making the trip, what would you suggest for a three- or four-day stay?
I’d stay for four days. Fly into Dublin but get around the rest of the country. You can drive pretty much anywhere in Ireland in four-five hours and there’s a decent public transport service if you don’t fancy driving. September’s a great month to come too because it’s usually dry and warm (the jokes about the amount of rain we get in Ireland are firmly grounded in truth!).
I’d also suggest that fans stay until Sunday when they can see the All-Ireland hurling final. It’s a uniquely Irish sport that is something of a mix between ice hockey, lacrosse and murder! And, like NCCA football, it’s played entirely by amateur athletes.