Pep rallies and an open air mass are all part of the build-up to the big game writes Ciaran Daly
T HE SHOWPIECE American football match at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow may be the Emerald Isle Classic between the University of Notre Dame and the US Naval Academy but there is so much pomp and pageantry accompanying the game that even the most sport averse people in Ireland can’t help but notice the furore.
Hollywood tends to produce movies that suggest that American football is just one big party with pep rallies and cheerleading almost superseding the action on the field of play. The good news is that appears to be the case and this week the party has moved to this side of the Atlantic. The event has been orchestrated in conjunction with The Gathering 2013, an initiative aimed at attracting the Irish diaspora from across the globe back to Ireland next year.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said: “I’m delighted to welcome the Emerald Isle Classic to Dublin. With 35,000 American football fans making the trip to Ireland, this week is set to provide a huge economic boost to the country. It’s an ideal opportunity to promote The Gathering Ireland 2013 directly to the thousands of Americans travelling, as well as the expected multi-million television audience.”
Minister Varadkar added, “We’ll be using this weekend to highlight the unique bond that exists between Ireland and the US, and encouraging Americans watching at home to see Ireland at first hand in 2013.”
Those bonding events began yesterday afternoon with both Notre Dame and Navy getting acquainted with the Aviva Stadium. Later, the Global Ireland Football Tournament (GIFT) parade, which began at Stephen’s Green, wound its way down to Trinity College for a pep rally. For those not in the know, a pep rally is effectively one large party with brass bands, cheerleaders and a lot of screaming players and fans.
This afternoon the GIFT American football event gets underway in three venues across Leinster. Navan’s Páirc Tailteann and Dublin’s Parnell Park and Donnybrook Stadia will play host to 12 US and Canadian high school teams. Three matches kick off at 4pm while a further three games are set to start at 7.30pm.
It appears that low key preparations for big games stateside aren’t the done thing. Notre Dame will be taking over the O in Dublin to stage their pep rally tonight. The sold-out event – A Welcome Home, in association with Glen Dimplex