Croke Park Classic a big success for the IAFA

Last weekends Croke Park Classic game appears to have been a big success for the GAA, participating teams and the Irish American football community. Over 53,000 spectators attended the game – this a record for an American football game in Ireland – more than any of the previous NCAA or NFL games played in this country achieved. It is also believed to be a record for any NCAA game played outside the United States. What’s more, we had an exciting game, with two evenly matched teams and where the result was decided as time expired. All of the four previous top level NCAA games played in Ireland had at least two scores between the teams.

The GAA and the staff at Croke Park are to be congratulated on the excellent job they did and the hospitality they extended to the IAFA and its guests.

Thursday – Cecil Martin Clinic:

Two days before the CPC, ex-Philadelphia Eagles and current Sky Sports analyst, Cecil Martin arrived in the Dublin as a special guest of the IAFA. On Thursday evening, he ran a coaching clinic for young players at Garda RFC. There was very positive feedback from those players who attended – 10 IAFA member clubs were represented at the clinic. Later that evening, Cecil and various Irish coaches who assisted at the clinic had dinner together and swapped football stories.

Cecil Martin instructs attendees at clinic.

Friday – Pep Rallies and Formal Reception.

Friday afternoon saw the Pep Rallied for both Penn State and UCF take place in central Dublin. Volunteers provided by the IAFA assisted with these events and many members of the local American football community enjoyed the spectacle.

Also on Friday, two more IAFA special guests arrived. The first was Mr. Michel Daum, the newly appointed President of GFL International and a Board member of the French Federation. GFL International runs the major continental European Club competitions including the EuroBowl and new 5 country European Football League (Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland & Spain). Our second guest to arrive was Mr. Carsten Dalkowski who is Chair of the German league and a Board member of the German Federation (AFVD). The German Football League is the continents biggest domestic league with approximately 40% of all registered players in Europe.

On Friday evening, representatives of the IAFA and our 3 special guests attended a formal reception in the famous Stephens Green Hibernian Club hosted by Mr. Aidan J. Prendergast. Mr. Prendergast is the first ever President of the IAFA and currently does a lot of work for the NFL. Other guests included Mr. Peter McKenna, CEO of Croke Park and prominent people in town for the game.

Left to right: Michael Smith, Cillian Smith, AJ Prendergast, Cecil Martin, Michel Daum, Carsten Dalkowski, John Judge, Ciaran O'Sullivan

Saturday – Gameday.

The GAA graciously provided the IAFA with a corporate box in the Hogan Stand where it could entertain guests and organisations with whom the IAFA has a relationship. Those invited included ex-IAFA Presidents, some IAFA team representatives, the Chair of the Federation of Irish Sport, representatives of the Irish Sports Council and Local Sports Partnerships as well as prospective commercial partners and other representatives from the Irish NGB sector. Cecil Martin and Carsten Dalkowski were special guests in the box. All thoroughly enjoyed the game and the Croke Park hospitality.

IAFA guests enjoy the game.

Meanwhile, representatives of the IAFA and Mr. Daum were guests at the GAA President’s Lunch at which they were afforded the opportunity to chat to Board members and prominent alumni of each visiting college and other guests. Ambassador Dan Rooney was the special guest of Honour at this lunch.

The game programme for the event featured five pages of information on Irish American football. Two pages dedicated to the history of the domestic game in Ireland and three with information on the IAFA and it’s activities.

Many IAFA members also attended the game, enjoying the opportunity to mix with visitors from both UCF and Florida. The atmosphere was electric at times, particularly as the game went down to the wire.

 After the game, the various attendees and guests attended some of the post game celebrations taking place in the city centre.

In overall terms, the event was a big success for the IAFA and anyone connected with Irish American football.

Ex-IAFA Presidents and Mr. Dan Feaheny.
Aidan J. Prendergast and Cecil Martin.
Cillian Smith and the Dan Rooney Trophy.
GFL International President Michel Daum with IAFA President Michael Smith.