History of US teams playing in Ireland

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On September 1st, the Emerald Isle Classic will be held in Aviva Stadium, Dublin between Notre Dame and Navy.  With this in mind, we wanted to look back at other US-centric games that have taken place in Ireland over the years.  From the first ever game in 1942 right up to the Emerald Isle Classic in 2012, several major fixtures held here between college teams, NFL teams and many games between US college teams and our own IAFL teams.

In subsequent posts, we’ll look forward towards future games that are taking place here, including the Emerald Isle Classic, GIFT 2012 and The Gathering.

1942: US Servicemen

The first ever game of American Football took place in Ravenhill, Belfast between two teams of US servicemen in front of a crowd of 8,000 people.  This game was held to raise money for the Red Cross.

Ravenhill Game, Belfast, 1942

1946: US Servicemen

On the way home after World War II, a group of US servicemen played a game in Croke Park, Dublin.  This is believed to be the first ‘foreign’ sport to be played in Croke Park.

1988: Boston College vs Army

On November 19th, Boston College and Army travelled to Lansdown Road, now called Aviva Stadium, for the first Emerald Isle Classic.  This was the first NCAA-sanctioned game played in Europe and drew approximately 42,500 fans, about 10,000 of which came from the US.  Boston College ended up beating Army 38-24.

1989: Pittsburgh vs Rutgers

The Boston College vs Army game in 1988 generated a lot of buzz for having football in Ireland.  The aim was to bring teams over that had an Irish background, thereby encouraging Irish Americans to come home for the game.  In 1989, another NCAA fixture between Pittsburgh and Rutgers was held in December in front of a crowd of approximately 37,000, again in Lansdown Road.  Pittsburgh beat Rutgers on the field, but the Emerald Isle Classic was put on hold.  However this and the 1988 fixture generated significant interest in the sport and showed how viable Ireland was as a country to hold such games.

1996: Navy vs Notre Dame

In 1996, Navy and Notre Dame began a new competition called the Shamrock Classic.  This time, the game was played in Croke Park, with Notre Dame beating Navy 54-27.  Approximately 40,000 people attended this game, slightly less than the game in 1988.  10,000 fans travelled from the US, with the bulk of the remainder being Notre Dame fans from across Europe.

1997: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Chicago Bears

In 1997, the first NFL game to be played in Ireland took place in Croke Park.  The Steelers beat the Bears 30-17 in front of a crowd of 36,000.  The game was aimed solely at the domestic markets, so most of the crowd were Irish fans

2002: Team Canada vs Carrickfergus Knights

In 2002, the Canadian U21 team visited Ireland and played against the Carrickfergus Knights in St. Vincents GA in Dublin.  The experience of the Canadians showed with a 34-6 win over the Knights.

Team Canada, 2002

2004: John Carroll University vs Team Ireland

John Carroll University travelled from Ohio to take on the reformed Team Ireland in May 2004.  This game was the first to be played as part of the new Celtic Classic series.  The game was played in Dr. Hickey Park (Greystones RFC), with John Carroll winning.  JCU are returning to Dublin later this month as the showcase team in the GIFT series of games that accompany the Emerald Isle Classic.  They play St. Norberts College in Donnebrook on Friday 31st August.

John Carroll, 2004

2005: Adrian College vs Team Ireland

In May 2005, Adrian College Michigan took on Team Ireland in Celtic Classic II.  Again this game was played in Dr. Hickey Park and the US visitors were victorious.

2008: CW Post v Tallaght Outlaws

In June 2008, CW Post, a small college from California played the Tallaght Outlaws at the P&T Sports Club in Tallaght. CW Post won the game, with the Outlaws being surprisingly competitive.

2012: University of Wisconsin-Eau-Claire v University of Limerick

This game was played in Garryowen, Limerick on June 10th last with the US visitors winning by a score of 58-2. It was run in conjunction with Global Football as a prequel to the GIFT2012 games.