An Taoiseach Announces Plans for Five-Game American College Football Series


  • Over €250 million economic value expected for series
  • Aer Lingus unveiled as sponsor of the five-game Aer Lingus College Football Series at the Aviva Stadium
  • Series kicks off with the return of Navy vs Notre Dame, scheduled for Saturday 29th August 2020
  • Game weeks will include a full program of high-profile business, academic, cultural and sporting events including a number of US High School football fixtures as part of the overall experience under the now established game umbrella #MuchMoreThanAGame

Thursday, 25th of October 2018: An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D. today announced a five-game plan which will see the return of College Football to Ireland and an expected €250 million economic windfall

for the country over the coming years. The series kicks off with the return of Navy vs Notre Dame which will take place on Saturday 29th August 2020. Aer Lingus has been unveiled as title sponsor of the series at the Aviva Stadium with other fixtures and teams will be announced in due-course.

The previous Navy vs Notre Dame fixture in the Aviva Stadium in 2012 was a huge success with 35,000 fans travelling from the US; resulting in one of the largest economic and tourism boosts for the country in recent memory. The fixture is one of the oldest rivalries in College Football and Notre Dame won the previous Dublin showdown 50-10. This Saturday (27th October 2018) the two teams will play their annual head-to-head game in San Diego.

Speaking at the announcement, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. said he was delighted that College Football was returning to Ireland for a five-game programme: “College football is one of the greatest spectacles in world sport and to bring it back to Ireland for a five-game series is wonderful news for Irish tourism and for sports fans. Over 35,000 fans travelled to Ireland when Notre Dame and Navy last met in Dublin in 2012 and we will warmly welcome them and many others back for the Aer Lingus College Football Classics. Major games such as this one showcase Ireland as a location for international events and tournaments and put our world-leading hospitality and tourism sector front and centre. I look forward to the first game of the series with the return of Notre Dame vs Navy in August 2020; I have no doubt it will be a hugely popular occasion.”

Tourism and Economy
The Aer Lingus College Football Series, starting in 2020, will have a huge economic impact in Ireland, particularly in the tourism industry. In 2012, Navy vs Notre Dame generated €60 million for Dublin (source: Dublin Chamber of Commerce) and an estimated €100 million in total for Ireland. Driving tourism and strengthening ties between Irish and US businesses and academic institutions is a key driver in bringing American Football back to Ireland. The five-game series is estimated to bring an economic boost of over €250 million to the Irish economy.

Organisers and Sponsors
The games will be organised by Irish American Events Ltd which is a joint venture between and Anthony Travel who have been involved in College Football games in Ireland previously. Welcoming today’s announcement, Neil Naughton, Chairman of the Game Steering Committee commented: “These games will provide a further, very welcome boost for tourism in Ireland and showcase top level college football to a wider fan base. Tourism Ireland in the US is working closely with Anthony Travel, the official travel company for both colleges, and other travel partners and we will be using these great sporting events to showcase the fantastic Aviva Stadium, Dublin and the world class attractions that the island of Ireland offers as a destination.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring said: “I welcome the announcement that College Football is returning to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in 2020 for a five-game programme. Sporting events like the American College Football Series strengthen our ties with other great sporting nations and they showcase Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

Commenting on the sponsorship, Aer Lingus Chief Executive Stephen Kavanagh said, “Aer Lingus is delighted to once again support College Football coming to Ireland, this time as title sponsor of the series. We have no doubt that this exciting event will strengthen the important ties, both in sports and in tourism, between Ireland and the US.  The US is a key market for the airline and one which we know very well.  As a result, we know how important College Football is in American life.  As we continue to realise our ambition to be the leading value carrier on the North Atlantic – we currently have direct flights to Ireland from 15 North American destinations and this is set to increase in the coming years – a high-profile partnership with College Football provides Aer Lingus with a unique opportunity to promote ourselves to this key strategic US audience. We very much look forward to welcoming the fans from Notre Dame and Navy on-board in 2020.”

The other key stakeholders driving the games in both Ireland and America include Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council.

Paul Keeley, Director of Commercial Development at Fáilte Ireland in welcoming fans of both College Teams said: “We are delighted to welcome both teams and their supporters to our capital city when they visit in 2020. From past experience of hosting the American Football Classic, it is worth an estimated €23 million to the local economy bringing a welcome boost to our tourism industry locally and nationally as many of the expected 30,000 US supporters and visitors stay and visit other parts of the country while here. In addition, it is expected that via ESPN in the U.S. an estimated 6 million viewers will watch the game providing Ireland with a fantastic opportunity to showcase our ability to host large-scale international sporting tournaments while also reaching out to viewers – and potential visitors – in one of our key markets.”

Navy vs Notre Dame
Navy is a team made up of players enrolled in the US Naval Academy and with one of the nation’s oldest College Football programmes. The US Naval Academy and the University of Notre Dame institutions have a long history of solidarity and support. The fixture was first played in 1927 and both teams are committed to renewing the college football fixture every year.

Notre Dame Football Team and the University of Notre Dame have strong historical links to Ireland and have established one of the largest and most widespread fan bases in college football. Currently coached by Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has had the vast majority of wins in this fixture including the two occasions it was played in Dublin – Croke Park in 1996 and Aviva Stadium in 2012.

The Aer Lingus College Football Series will have a very strong Irish-American influence. Not only will there be the usual college football fanfare with lots of fun events celebrating the red, white and blue including marching bands, cheerleaders and tailgating parties, but there will also be a great celebration of the close Irish-American links that are so highly valued. The teams will compete each year for the Keough-Naughton College Football perpetual Trophy, acknowledging the contribution to Irish-American society of Don Keough and Martin Naughton.

Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk commented: “We are thrilled and excited to return to Aviva Stadium in Dublin for the 94th playing of the Navy-Notre Dame game,” said Gladchuk.  “In 2012, it was one of the greatest airlifts in all of sports with more than 35,000 people coming from the United States to witness the beauty of Ireland and the extravaganza that is Navy-Notre Dame and we expect just as many people to return in 2020.  The support and enthusiasm for the game in Ireland is magnificent with the complete support from the Prime Minister and the Irish government agencies. We are looking forward to a great matchup in a country that knows no bounds for hospitality.”

Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick commented: “The University of Notre Dame, our football program, our alumni and fans had such a wonderful experience in 2012,” said Swarbrick. “The people of Ireland were incredibly welcoming and made our time on the Emerald Isle unforgettable. It wasn’t long after our return from that trip that Navy initiated conversations with the hopes of bringing this matchup back to Dublin. Chet and his staff at Navy deserve a ton of credit for making this a reality. “I’m so excited, not only for our student-athletes and those that will travel from the states, but for the people of Ireland and all of those that will make this another experience to cherish.”

U.S. high schools will also have the opportunity to travel and play in Ireland as part of the “Dublin Friday Night Lights” programme.

Ticketing / Hospitality & Travel Packages
Packages for the game will go on sale from the 25th of October 2018 through the official corporate hospitality game partner Travel packages will also go on sale from the 25th of October 2018 through Notre Dame’s official travel partner Anthony Travel in partnership with Abbey Group Ireland. General ticketing information to be released in due course.

For exclusive information see and follow College Football Ireland on Twitter @CFBIreland, Facebook @CollegeFootballIreland and Instagram @CFBIreland #MuchMoreThanAGame.


For further details, please contact:

Kevin Moore
Rachel Solon
Tom Quilligan

Notes to Editors

About Navy
The Naval Academy Athletic Association is a non-profit organization whose objective is to “promote, influence, and assist the midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy” in accordance with the policy of the Superintendent of the Academy. Through an intercollegiate athletic program that is one of the largest in the USA, and a highly organized club sports program and intramural sports program, each midshipman, male and female, is afforded the opportunity to compete in athletics at a level commensurate with his or her abilities. The emphasis on physical fitness is borne out in the first line of the mission of the Naval Academy: To develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically.

About Notre Dame Athletics
The University of Notre Dame sponsors 26 varsity athletics programs (13 men’s, 13 women’s), dating back to 1887 when the Irish played their first football game. Notre Dame won its 30th and 31st national championships in 2018 when the Irish claimed the NCAA Fencing Championship and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship following previous titles in football (11 consensus), fencing (three men, one women, five combined), women’s soccer (three), men’s tennis (two), plus one each in men’s soccer, women’s basketball, men’s golf and men’s cross country. Notre Dame remains an independent in football, but most other Irish sports in 2013-14 began competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame student-athletes in 2017 recorded the highest NCAA Graduation Success Rate figure (98) among all Football Bowl Subdivision institutions.

Who is organising the game?
The game is being promoted and organised by Irish American Events Ltd which is a joint venture between – Hospitality & Events Specialists (Irish Partner) and Anthony Travel (US Partner)

Who is Irish American Events Ltd? is a leading Irish events and hospitality company established in 2002 specialising in restaurant, venue and bespoke event management and promotion. The company played a pivotal role to the Emerald Isle Classic in 2012, the Croke Park Classic in 2014 and the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in 2016 and has an excellent understanding of the various traditions and culture associated with US college football. In 2015, in partnership with Anthony Travel, established Irish American Events Limited which successfully promoted and operated the 2016 Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Boston College and Georgia Tech. The joint venture partnership has delivered the correct commercial environment from both the public and private sectors in Ireland to create the opportunity to attract future profile College Football fixtures from 2020. A five game series will commence with Navy v Notre Dame on August 29th 2020.

Anthony Travel is a full-service travel management company specialising in university and athletic travel. Founded in 1989, Anthony Travel has 30 years of experience in collegiate travel, servicing over 80 college athletic departments year-round and numerous other universities throughout the year with special events. Anthony Travel manages all housing and travel components of 300+ athletic events annually and has managed over 160 international athletic tours in more than 30 countries on 6 continents. Anthony Travel has played a significant role in the formation and execution of all of the successful Ireland college football games of recent history, including the 2012 Emerald Isle Classic, 2014 Croke Park Classic and 2016 Aer Lingus College Football Classic. For the 2012 game, Anthony Travel managed over 10,000 travelers from the U.S. to Ireland.

Anthony Travel became a part of the on-location Experiences family in February 2016. On Location Experiences is a leader in premium experiential hospitality business, establishing a new industry standard to serve iconic rights holders with extensive experience in ticketing, curated hospitality, live event production and travel management in the worlds of sports and entertainment. On Location is a partner to over 150 rights holders including the NFL, NCAA, the PGA of America and the United States Tennis Association, and provides unrivaled official access for both corporate clients and fans looking for immersive experiences at marquee events including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Draft, NCAA Final Four, PGA of America events, numerous College Football Bowl Games and the Tennis Majors.

About Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus is the national airline of Ireland, founded in 1936. The airline operates 61 aircraft on routes to destinations in the UK, Europe and North America, carrying 11 million customers per annum. This summer Aer Lingus will operate 24 flights per day across the North Atlantic, with three daily services between Boston and Ireland; two flights to Dublin and one flight to Shannon. Aer Lingus’ primary mission is ‘To Connect Ireland to The World’ by providing guests with convenience, choice, comfort, a seamless experience and value. We serve a combination of leisure and business travelers with a quality core product that can be augmented through benefit driven a la carte paid options. Aer Lingus serves central airport locations, enhancing connectivity options. Our guests can choose from nine North American destinations with more than 100 onward connections across the U.S and Canada with our partner airlines. Dublin Airport is the only major airport in Europe to offer U.S preclearance, which enables passengers to save time on arrival in the U.S by completing all the necessary immigration and customs checks prior to departure