Ireland’s consistently mild, moist climate results in grass that grows 11 months out of the year. Some call it Forty Shades Of Green. In fact, that’s what Johnny Cash named one of his songs after visiting the country.
“Green, we’ve got a lot of it,” Padriac O’Kane said, “even though you guys will try to turn it red when you get over there.
“But we can cope with that.”
O’Kane, representing Irish American Events, was referencing Nebraska fans who will likely cross the ocean in droves for the 2021 Aer Lingus Football Classic between Nebraska and Illinois.
O’Kane and John Anthony, CEO of Anthony Travel, attended a Tuesday news conference at Memorial Stadium to officially announce the game, the second in a five-game series featuring American colleges playing in Ireland. Navy and Notre Dame, who have already played two such games, begin the renewed series next season.
Anthony said the 2012 game drew 35,000 Americans, with 28,000 supporting Notre Dame.
“It’s fair to issue a challenge today to Husker Nation,” Anthony said, “to get to 29,000.”
Of course, we all know how Nebraska fans respond to such challenges.
That’s why Anthony locked in on Nebraska during a meeting two years ago with Big Ten Conference athletic directors and administrators. League commissioner Jim Delany had invited Anthony, who expressed interesting in having the Big Ten play in the Aer Lingus Football Classic, to the meeting, where he would spend about 5 minutes selling the Ireland experience.