Heading into a weekend when Navy and Notre Dame continue a college football rivalry that has been contested since 1927, GlobalFootball.com takes a look back at the spectacular high school event that kicked off a wild weekend of football in Ireland in 2012 when the Midshipmen and Irish met over in Dublin.
The Global Ireland Football Tournament – GIFT 2012 – was declared an unprecedented success as more than 13,000 spectators flocked to three venues to enjoy the spectacle of high school and college American football teams, bands, cheerleaders and dancers in action in a special Dublin Friday Night Lights event organized by Global Football.
The positive reaction of all who witnessed the 12 teams from the United States, Canada and the UK play six games split between Donnybrook Stadium and Parnell Park in Dublin and Páirc Tailteann in Navan was overwhelming.
The Global Ireland Football Tournament was about much more than six regular season American football games played on August 31, with a Parade through Dublin City Centre, a Pep Rally at Trinity College, Educational tours of various Dublin and County Meath sites, practices at University College Dublin and venues throughout the region, the GAA semi-finals at Croke Park, interaction with local sports teams, and friendships made that will last a lifetime. The GIFT travelers also attended the sell-out Emerald Isle Classic between Navy and the University of Notre Dame at the Aviva Stadium.
“The entire event required an amazing team effort on the part of hundreds of dedicated people, but it all started – and ended – with the visionary commitment of each of the schools’ leaders,” said Global Football President and GIFT organizer Patrick Steenberge.
“The head coaches, athletic directors, principals, headmasters and administrators took on a huge challenge more than a year ago, in order to provide their student-athletes and communities with this most special educational experience. These are the ones who made it possible, and are very special, dedicated educators. They each dared to dream and work on behalf of their youngsters and schools, and should be praised far and wide for their efforts and commitment.”
Results, Facts and Figures from the Global Ireland Football Tournament:
Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin, Friday, August 31
Jesuit Prep Dallas (Texas) 30 Loyola Academy (Illinois) 29
John Carroll University (Ohio) 40 St Norbert College (Wisconsin) 3
U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, was among the guests at Donnybrook Stadium and performed the coin toss with Patrick Steenberge and Honorary Chairman Midshipman First Class Colin Bruton (25th Co.).
Parnell Park, Dublin, Friday, August 31
Kent School (Connecticut) 26 National School of American Football (UK) 2
Notre Dame High School (California) 27 Hamilton High School (Arizona) 15
Gaelic football legend and Head of Sports at UCD Brian Mullins was on hand to welcome the teams as Honorary Chairman and the marching bands of Notre Dame High School and Hamilton High School entertained the crowd before the games and at half time.
Pairc Tailteann, Navan, Friday, August 31
Oak Park High School (Manitoba) 18 Villanova College (Ontario) 9
Notre Dame Prep (Arizona) 20 Father Judge (Pennsylvania) 6
Canadian ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn was joined by former University of Notre Dame and Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Mike McCoy to welcome the teams from Canada and the United States.
GIFT Parade through the City Centre streets of Dublin, Thursday, August 30:
Irish natives and American visitors stood five-deep in some parts and waved from office windows as the football teams, marching bands, dancers and cheerleaders from the United States and Canada weaved their way from St Stephen’s Green in a rush hour Parade, down Dawson, Nassau and Grafton streets to Trinity College and brought Dublin City Centre to a gleeful standstill. The Jesuit Rangerettes graced the front cover of the Irish daily newspaper the following day.
Dublin’s commuters and some of the 35,000 Americans arriving in Dublin for a weekend of American football action and the Emerald Isle Classic enjoyed the spectacle.
Pep Rally at Trinity College, Dublin, Thursday, August 30:
The GIFT participants held a Pep Rally as a 2,000-strong crowd gathered at the famous educational institution in the Irish capital. Bands and cheer teams from Loyola Academy, Jesuit Prep Dallas, Notre Dame Prep, Notre Dame High School and Hamilton High School performed.
Once at Front Square at Trinity College, the marchers and onlookers were welcomed by a series of speakers including Canadian Ambassador Loyola Hearn, GIFT Honorary Chairman Mike McCoy, Trinity College senior lecturer Patrick Geoghegan, U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer Susan Cleary and CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons.
Official Reception with the Dublin Lord Mayor, Thursday, August 30:
Representatives of Global Football and each of the GIFT participating teams were welcomed in his historic house by Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí, who then threw a football around on the forecourt of his historical Mansion House residence with Patrick Steenberge, much to the amusement of passers by.
Team practices at University College Dublin, Thursday, August 30:
The GIFT teams descended on the spacious campus of University College Dublin where they held final practices side-by-side on five fields prepared by the UCD American football players in morning and afternoon sessions, punctuated by an opportunity to learn about studying in Ireland.