Notre Dame Football to Return to Ireland?

Notre Dame Football - Ireland
A general view as the Brigade of Midshipmen stand for the national anthem before the game between the Navy Midshipmen and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s trip to Ireland to kick-off the 2012 season was such a success that college football will be returning to the Emerald Isle again in 2014 with Penn State and Central Florida squaring off while another trip from Notre Dame appears to be a very real possibility as well.

According to a report in the Irish website The Score, Ireland is looking to host games in 2016 and 2018 in addition to the 2014 contest in Croke Park that has been already announced between Penn State and Central Florida.  The report mentions that other schools being floated around as possible participants in future games include Notre Dame, Alabama, and Boston College.

Croke Park was the site of Notre Dame’s initial trip to Ireland back in 1996 when the Irish set the NCAA record for longest winning streak against a single opponent by defeating Navy.  This past season the Midshipmen and Fighting Irish squared off the brand new Avia Statdium in the season opener – a 50-10 Notre Dame win.

Some reports have suggested this past year’s game generated $130 MM US for the local economy although The Score reports that number was closer to $33 MM US.  Either way, the game was a smashing success and has organizers already lining up future contests.

There was some concern on Notre Dame’s side that the trip to Ireland would have lasting impacts down the road in terms of jet leg in the following weeks and while the Irish were indeed a bit sluggish against Purdue the week after they beat Navy, they showed no ill-effects from the trip two weeks later with a 20-3 win in East Lansing.

Going back to Ireland makes a whole lot of sense for Notre Dame.  First off, the trip was very well received by fans and if you ask anyone who went to the game they will tell you the trip was worth every penny.  From a football standpoint, games in Ireland are a huge boost for recruiting since right now the only schools that can boast of such games are Notre Dame and Navy and now Penn State and Central Florida.  Of those other schools, the only one Notre Dame should ever be competing with for a recruit is Penn State and the NCAA sanctions they are currently under still give the Irish the upper hand there.

The Notre Dame players also loved the trip last year – and honestly what college student wouldn’t love a free trip to Ireland to play a football game – and their reactions on Twitter showed it.

The one thing Notre Dame will need to caution here, however, is scheduling such a game in a manner that won’t hurt the Irish down the road.  This year we saw the Irish escape with a win over Purdue following their Transatlantic trip.  In future years though, Notre Dame has some tough early season match-ups like in 2015 and 2016 when the Irish will play a home and home with Texas the first week of September each year.  Playing a game in Ireland in possibly late August and then traveling back to take on Texas is not a recipe for a national championship run.

Notre Dame does have a bye week after both early September games against Texas as of right now, but is a trip across the Atlantic Ocean the best thing for the players the week after a tough fought game like the Longhorns are sure to deliver on?  Probably not.

In looking really far ahead, 2018 looks like the much more logical choice for a return to Ireland for the Fighting Irish.  As of right now, Notre Dame has just a September 22nd game against Purdue officially on the schedule meaning the Irish could open the season in Ireland before classes kick into high gear and possibly even have a bye week following their trip to allow the players to catch up on their classwork and ward off any effects of jet lag.

Despite the logistical concerns that could stand in the way,  the notion of playing in Ireland again should be very exciting for Notre Dame and its fans – especially those like myself who were unable to attend the game in Avia Stadium last fall.


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  1. SteelfanRob 4 years ago

    No, Shaz, it has to be the late, great commentator of both Georgia Championship Wrestling (later WCW) and World Championship Wrestling from Florida, Mr. Gordon Solie, doing the play-by-play. Jimmy “the Mouth of the South” Hart can be the cheerleaders coach at Bama, with his big bullhorn. “Gimme a ‘T’, gimme a ‘U’, gimme a ‘R’, gimme a ‘D’…. What’s that spell?…. “Bama”! (See, they can’t even spell really well at that school!) Of course, Commissioner Dusty Rhodes will make sure to schedule only jobbers for his SEC teams, so they can look good beating up the bald guy with no muscles, a pot belly, and a farmer’s tan. Coach Terry Funk will then pull a Johnny Manziel and scream and act like an idiot before getting tossed from ringside (I mean sideline) by the ref. And if all else fails, and the SEC finds itself in real trouble, a masked man from parts unknown calling himself “NCAA” will jump into the ring (I mean field) and hit the opponent over the head with a steel chair. That’s what SEC football looks like to me!

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  2. SteelfanRob 4 years ago

    So, for the record, if we add all SEC teams and look at their away games over a whole decade, we have about a half dozen games they have played outside SEC territory. What does that come out to? 1/2 real away game per SEC team every decade or so? Rutgers and Indiana?! Real murders’ row there! So, it seems that outside Tenn., which to its credit has also played ND, albeit mostly in Knoxville, the other SEC teams mostly stay local. Chattanooga St. sure looks appetizing to some. I wonder when UF played a real game outside the South?

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    1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

      1991 v Syracuse. Unless of course you count the 2 BCS title games vs OSU and Oklahoma.

      Probably shouldn’t make fun of Rutgers or Indiana as these are teams ND has or will play.

      The SEC could probably ask the same of ND. As in when was the last time ND played a SEC school. My recollection is 05 vs Tenn but I could be mistaken.

      Bottom line, for the most part the SEC non conference schedule is pretty weak. However, most schools from all conferences rarely if ever travel outside of their regions. This is done for a variety of reasons. ND playing a national schedule is what makes ND what it is. They have to travel all over to play as they are independent and the only school who can really pull it off.

      Until somebody beats the SEC when it counts none of this jibberish really means anything. ND was awfully good last year but when the lights were brightest it showed there is still another rung of the ladder to climb. I’m just as tired of hearing about the SEC as everybody else but reality is reality. And right now the reality is that the SEC rules CFB.

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      1. SteelFanRob 4 years ago

        No, Ron. NO SEC fan can question ND’s schedule, which every year is among the most national and toughest. Bottom line, as you admit, is that the Special Ed Conference’s non-conference schedule is a joke. Plus, how many tough conference games is Bama playing this season? Until somebody beats the SEC the reality of the SEC will remain. With the exception of Vandy the academics at those schools for football players is non-existent. If Bama’s players had to meet ND’s requirements and course-loads, they wouldn’t make it. It’s easy t win when winning is all that matters!

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      2. Shazamrock 4 years ago

        It isn’t that ND tries to avoid playing SEC teams, after all, that area of the country is our prime target area for recruiting and ND would more than welcome the oppertunity.

        But to enable such games to happen requires a two way street in the the form of a home and home series between the teams which the SEC doesn’t seem to want to agree to.

        Lets face it, for a SEC team to travel to Indiana, it offers little to them in terms of recruiting, but keeping ND out of their territory seems to be a much better choice for them.

        Then you throw in the recent comments by Steve Spurrier and it makes you wonder what they are really afraid of.

        There was a reason the NCAA stepped in during the 70’s and limited the the team player rosters to 65.

        It was to try to level the playing field. There were a few elite football programs that could stockpile high school talent from all corners of the country,and make no mistake, Notre Dame was clearly one of them.

        It bothered a lot of people and a lot of programs, especially those losing players to the north as they were trying to deal with desegregation.

        The NCAA invoked changes that they felt would improve all of college football, and it did, and now, to a finer point,some more than others.

        Maybe it’s time the NCAA revisit those beliefs.

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  3. JC 4 years ago

    Too bad you lead a sheltered life old school. Football is a risk the minute you step on the field. As to travel to Ireland, ND does indeed have an international following unlike no other. For those of us who travel internationally, it is well known ND is the #1 college football brand the rest of the world follows hands down. I suggest you come up with better dialectical thinking.

    Frank, if you decide to go make sure you get your passport one year in advance.


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  4. old school 4 years ago

    Frank, your argument doesn’t make sense. You rightly point out that Notre Dame was sluggish and flat against Purdue the week following its trip to Dublin. Then you reason that because of the jet lag/letdown that follows a trans-Atlantic game, Notre Dame should not schedule such a game before playing a good team — because the Ireland game will likely affect Notre Dame’s performance, at least the following week.

    But you say it would be a great idea to schedule a game in Ireland before playing a medium-level game (like Purdue), presumably because even with a letdown and/or jet lag, ND would still have a pretty good chance of winning the next game — we just shouldn’t try it the week before playing a good team. Did you like playing with matches as a kid? Because ND would be playing with fire by playing again in Ireland. ND seemed off its game against Purdue and barely won the game over a mediocre team — at home. Next time we may not be so lucky.

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    1. Shazamrock 4 years ago

      Perhaps ND is one of those rare schools who recognize the additional benefits of playing a game over seas other than just a possible “W” in the win column.

      For the players who were fortunate enough (or motivated enough) to make the trip, it was a great learning experience, and more than likely, a once in a lifetime oppertunity.

      And isn’t that a part of Notre Dame’s mission… to provide advanced and innovated learning experiences as well as life enhancing oppertunities?

      Yeah, we could be like a certain SEC team, who happends to be the current National Champion, and who never travels north of the Mason-Dixon line to play, but besides being extremely boring, it would also be a great disservice to our student athletes who have come to exspect more from the university.

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      1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

        For the record they played at Penn State in 2011. And of course we all know that the Mason – Dixon line is the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania so this would qualify as north of this line.

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      2. Shazamrock 4 years ago

        Alabama’s rare visit north came during that fateful season that Penn St fired their head coach of 45 years after months of uncertainty and turmoil, and one which the entire season was vacated by the NCAA.

        Alabama came to town,
        riding on a pony,
        beat a fallen Penn State team,
        and called it Macaroni!

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      3. SteelfanRob 4 years ago

        For the record, how many times in the last 10 years has an SEC team played outside its territory? Ron the Bama apologist has given us a grand total of 1 time for the Crimson Turd. How many times have SEC teams gone to California or the Pacific Northwest in the last decade? Much better to schedule a Sun Belt or FCS (old D-1AA) team at home than play USC in LA.

        The SEC reminds me of the old regional territory days in pro rasslin’. Perhaps the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes can become the next commissioner of the SEC, hire Terry Funk to coach Bama, and bring back the late Gordon Solie from the dead to call Georgia Championship Wrestling, oops, I mean Georgia Bulldog football.

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      4. JC 4 years ago

        I like it guys!

        “A Crimson Turd riding on a pony!” Hahahaha!

        A New Bama Mascot!

        Now how’s that for innovative patch & paste out-of-context synthesization! Hahahaha!

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      5. Shazamrock 4 years ago

        Gordon Solie???

        Don’t you mean Jimmy Hart… you know… “The Mouth of the South”

        A crimson turd? Isn’t that what the British call a Bloody Stool pigion?

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      6. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

        I think the SEC non conference schedules are a joke but Tenn has had consecutive home and homes with UCLA, Cal and now Oregon. LSU has gone to WVU and Wash recently. Arkansas at Rutgers this year and Mizz at Indiana off the top of my head. (For the record).

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    2. Toulmin H. Brown 4 years ago

      Ireland? It’s a good idea.

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  5. Toulmin H. Brown 5 years ago

    Notre Dame in Ireland is exceptional!

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