American football returns to Croke Park

American football returns to Croke Park

Thousands of American football fans are expected in Dublin next year for the opening game in the college football season.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) will face Penn State in the Croke Park Classic on August 30 next year.

It will be the first time the teams have played outside the United States.

Paraic Duffy, GAA director general, said the 2014 season opener will be a hugely significant event for Croke Park and Ireland.

“Irish people are renowned for their love of sport as evidenced by the thousands who attend our games throughout the year,” he said.

“I have no doubt that this game will be every bit as attractive.”

UCF coach George O’Leary and Penn State director of athletics Dave Joyner announced the fixture at the Leinster senior football championship final between Dublin and Meath.

The last American football game hosted in Croke Park was in 1996 when Notre Dame defeated Navy.

And almost 50,000 fans were back in Dublin last year when both teams played at the Aviva.

Organisers believe the fixture added some €100m to the Irish economy as well as contributing to the nearly 15% growth in American visitors.

Tourism and Sport Minister Leo Varadkar said next year’s match will be a fantastic event for Croke Park and for Ireland.

“It’s great news for sports fans, for the GAA and the wider economy,” he added.

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