Energia Park will again welcome Friday night American football action when the Dublin High School Football Showcase is played in Ireland on Friday, August 28.
Formerly known as Donnybrook Stadium, Leinster Rugby’s Energia Park will host two competitive games between varsity high school teams from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois (kickoff times TBA). The Fenwick High School Friars from Chicago, Illinois, will take on the Notre Dame Prep Saints from Scottsdale, Arizona, while Kent School from Connecticut will face Florida’s Community School of Naples.
“We look forward to again bringing student-athletes, their families and supporters to this first-class facility and welcoming local sports fans who have always come out in force to support the event,” said Global Football founder and president Patrick Steenberge. “This showcase is the perfect way to celebrate our 25th year of traveling the world.”
Players, coaches, cheerleaders and families will attend the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, which sees Navy take on the University of Notre Dame at the Aviva Stadium the following day.
Fenwick Friars vs Notre Dame Prep Saints
The Friars head to Dublin under new head coach Matt Battaglia, having posted a 6-5 record in 2019, which included a first round win in the Illinois High School Association playoffs. The football team travels for the first time with Global Football, though the school’s rugby squad visited Ireland in 2014. Coach Battaglia said: “The Fenwick Family and I are thrilled to have this opportunity to participate in the upcoming game in Ireland against Arizona’s Notre Dame Prep. I could not think of a better opportunity for our team to kick off the Fenwick FAST era than by competing overseas in a first class trip versus a first class opponent. I also want to thank the Fenwick administration and community along with Global Football for helping facilitate and putting this trip together. This is truly a special opportunity for our football family to come closer together and make special memories that will last forever.”
The Saints know what it takes to win overseas, having beaten Father Judge of Philadelphia 20-6 back in 2012 at Pairc Tailteann in County Meath. Current head coach George Prelock was the program’s junior varsity coach in 2012 so did not travel with the team. This past 2019 season, his Saints posted an impressive 11-2 record, winning two playoff games. Notre Dame prep won Arizona 4A-II state championships in 2007 and 2008. Coach Prelock said: “We are extremely excited for this amazing opportunity to play a talented team overseas. This will be a memorable experience for both schools’ communities.”
Kent School Lions vs Community School of Naples Seahawks
Kent School has traveled overseas with Global Football twice previously, including a 2012 visit to Ireland when under then-head coach Todd Marble, they beat the National School of American Football from the UK 26-2 at Parnell Park, the north Dublin home of Gaelic football. Current Lions head coach Connor Wells said: “We are very excited for our match up against the Community School of Naples this August. A top-tier academic institution with an exceptional football tradition, quite similar to Kent School, the Community School is an ideal opponent for our game in Dublin. Our boys look forward to competing with full hearts on the field as we celebrate this incredible global experience with our friends from Florida.”
Community School of Naples fought valiantly against a powerful Westminster School team from Atlanta on their last visit to Ireland in 2016, holding the score close until the fourth quarter. Head coach Paul Selvidio said: “Community School of Naples is looking forward to, once again, representing our country, community, and sport in Dublin. The international experience for our student-athletes was fully realized in our first trip to Ireland in 2016. The 2020 CSN Seahawk football team is thrilled to matchup against the Kent School from Connecticut. Both schools emphasize academic excellence and encourage excellence beyond the classroom – that means two well rounded football programs will face off in an international celebration of our great sport. Our two programs will be certain to represent our respective school’s well in front of worldwide audience.”
Global Football first hosted American football games at the 6,000-capacity Energia Park venue in 2012 when John Carroll University faced St Norbert College and Jesuit Prep from Dallas took on Loyola Academy from Chicago, with the pregame coin toss performed by then-U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney. In 2016, local supporters packed the stands while enjoying a triple-header of games featuring six high school teams from Florida, Georgia and New Jersey, including Community School of Naples.
Donnybrook Stadium was renamed Energia Park in March 2018 and is the permanent home of the Leinster Rugby Sub-Academy and Bective Rangers and Old Wesley rugby clubs. The venue was the home of Leinster Rugby until the club moved to the RDS Arena in 2007.
The participating teams will train at the athletic facilities of University College Dublin and will experience the local culture through a series of educational tours. Dublin will again be brought to a standstill when all teams and their cheerleaders join a city center parade on the Thursday evening before the games, which will culminate in an American-style Pep Rally in the heart of Dublin City.
Four-time Super Bowl winner and decorated U.S. Military veteran Rocky Bleier will serve as Honorary Chairman for the event. Bleier won a coveted college football national championship at Notre Dame in 1966 and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won four Super Bowl titles as a member of one of the NFL’s most legendary teams, during a professional career from 1968 to 1980.
Big Game USA, the world’s largest American-owned football factory, will provide hand-crafted Team Issue footballs for the Dublin High School Football Showcase. Custom crafted footballs sporting the event logo will be used as commemorative event memorabilia and as awards to each schools’ Global Ambassador Student Athlete at the Saturday Tailgate Awards Luncheon.