Emerald Isle Classic

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Emerald Isle Classic/Shamrock Classic/Croke Park Classic
Stadium Croke Park
Location Dublin, Ireland
Previous stadiums Lansdowne Road, Aviva Stadium
Operated 1988-89, 1996, 2012, 2014
US Ambassador Dan Rooney and Taoiseach Enda Kenny take part in the ceremonial coin toss before the 2012 game at Aviva Stadium

The Emerald Isle Classic was the first NCAA-sanctioned American college football game played in Europe. The game was played at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, Ireland in the years 1988 and 1989. The first game featured a 2-7 Boston College team led by Mark Kamphaus against the 8-1 Army.

The game was intended[by whom?] to be an annual event to attract some of the 40 million Americans of Irish descent back to their fatherland. College teams with particularly Irish or Catholic background were chosen in an effort to attract Irish nationals to the games as well.[citation needed] After poor attendance[1] in 1989, the Emerald Isle Classic was discontinued.


In 1996, Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy began a second American football event in Ireland called the Shamrock Classic. The event, played at Croke Park, drew a slightly smaller crowd than the first Emerald Isle Classic. Notre Dame won the game over Navy, setting the record for the longest winning streak over an annual collegiate opponent at 33 wins.


A return trip by the teams in 2012, held at Aviva Stadium, was confirmed by the two schools, the Irish American Football Association, and stadium management in September 2010. The Emerald Isle Classic was tied to the Irish tourism initiative The Gathering, which sought to encourage members of the Irish diaspora (especially in the U.S.) to visit their ancestral home in 2013. The first advance sellout for a sporting event in the two-year history of Aviva Stadium (though the stadium was used to capacity crowds, and, anyway, not all of the ticket purchasers would ultimately attend), 15,000 tickets sold in two hours, and about 35,000 Americans went to Dublin. This contrasted with the 1996 game, played in a half-empty Croke Park. The earlier game was televised on tape delay in the U.S., while the 2012 game aired live in parts of Europe as well as the U.S. The U.S. Navy docked an amphibious-assault warship in Dublin before the game.[2]


In June 2013, Penn State and UCF were reportedly in negotiations to play their 2014 season opener at Aviva, and the stadium was also seen as a potential venue for a proposed bowl game that would begin that season.[3] The Orlando Sentinel, located in UCF's home city, reported in July 2013 that the teams would play the game at Croke Park instead of Aviva.[4] That month the game, to be called the Croke Park Classic, was confirmed.[5] Yet the timing of the game proved disastrous and irked locals - it interfered with the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and upset indigenous sports fans annoyed that a crucial Kerry-Mayo showdown had to be forced out of the venue and into another city at short notice.[6][7] Furthermore, Dubliners themselves were inconvenienced by a stray American parachutist crashing onto a railway line and telephoning for help, while car alarms and heart attacks were triggered by two American fighter jets which, without warning, soared over the normally tranquil city at a low altitude ahead of the game.[8][9]


Game Date Event Venue Winner Score Loser Score Attendance Reference
1988 November 19 Emerald Isle Classic Lansdowne Road Boston College 38 Army 24 42,525 [10]
1989 December 2 Emerald Isle Classic Lansdowne Road Pittsburgh 46 Rutgers 29 19,800 [11]
1996 November 2 Shamrock Classic Croke Park Notre Dame 54 Navy 27 38,651 [12]
2012 September 1 Emerald Isle Classic Aviva Stadium Notre Dame 50 Navy 10 48,820 [13][14]
2014 August 30 Croke Park Classic Croke Park Penn State 26 UCF 24 53,304 [5]


  1. ^ Croke Park Classic 
  2. ^ Pogatchnik, Shawn (August 31, 2012). "US fans take over Dublin for Navy-Notre Dame game". Louisville, Kentucky: WDRB. Associated Press. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ Wilson, Christopher (June 11, 2013). "Report: Bowl games could be coming to Dubai, Dublin, the Bahamas". Dr. Saturday (Yahoo! Sports). Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ Tenorio, Paul (July 9, 2013). "UCF, Penn State to officially announce Ireland game on Sunday". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Penn State to Face UCF in Ireland's Croke Park Classic to Open 2014 Season" (Press release). Penn State Athletics. July 14, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  6. ^ Duggan, Keith (26 August 2014). "GAA has fumbled the ball and is jerking both Kerry and Mayo players around: These players have worked too hard, put too many hours in and get so little in return". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Harkin, Greg (26 August 2014). "Ticket touts 'the big winners' as Mayo fans slam venue for replay". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Boyle, Darren (31 August 2014). "A daredevil delivering an American football to one of Europe's biggest stadiums missed the giant arena and landed on a railway track instead". Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  9. ^ D'Arcy, Ciaran; Carr, Aoife (30 August 2014). "Croke Park fly-by rattles eardrums across north Dublin". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Lohr, Steve (1988-11-20). "COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Dubliners Cheer as B.C. Wins". New York Times (The New York Times (1851 - 2004) database). Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  11. ^ "Croke Park Classic". UCF. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  12. ^ "Games Played in Ireland". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  13. ^ "Update on status of proposed Navy v Notre Dame game = Irish American Football Association". 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  14. ^ "Aviva Stadium To Host The 2012 Navy-Notre Dame Game" (Press release). United States Naval Academy Varsity Athletics. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-09-29.