For all the attending hoopla, both teams will attempt to view the affair as just another — albeit longer — road trip. The Navy and Notre Dame squads will leave for Dublin following their Wednesday-afternoon workouts, arriving in Ireland on Thursday morning. There will be two days of practice, then game day. “We’ll try to get in a little nonfootball activity,” Dunn says, “but the primary objective is to win the game.”

This will mark the second visit to Dublin for Navy and Notre Dame following a 1996 game played in old Croke Park stadium. The maiden trip was the brainchild of Tom Kane, a lifelong Notre Dame fan and ex-Marine with Navy ties. “He was enamored with the Irish connection, as well as the cultural exchange that such a game would promote,” recalls John Heisler, a historian and senior associate athletic director at Notre Dame. “That game [won by Notre Dame, 54-27] drew 38,651 fans — and, truthfully, the locals had very little idea what American football was all about.”

Now, 16 years later, with professional football having become international, there is a greater understanding of the game. And the Irish media have worked to educate local readers and viewers. For the past couple of years, a delegation of Dublin reporters has come to the U.S. to attend the Notre Dame–Navy game.

“I think the fan appreciation will be far greater this time,” says Scott Strasemeier, the Naval Academy’s associate athletic director of sports information. “I remember getting into a cab when we were over there in ’96, and the driver, upon learning why I was in Dublin, wanted? to know if the winner of our game would go on to play in the Super Bowl.

“This time around, I think the people will have a better understanding of the game we’ll be playing.”


Game Schedule

Friday, Aug 31  
Páirc Tailteann
4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. EDT
Oak Park High School (Winnipeg)
vs.
Villanova College (Ontario)

7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. EDT
Notre Dame Prep (Arizona)
vs.
Father Judge High School (Pennsylvania)

Parnell Park
4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. EDT
Kent School (Connecticut)
vs.
NSAF London

7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. EDT
Notre Dame High School (California)
vs.
Hamilton High School (Arizona)

Donnybrook Stadium
4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. EDT
Loyola Academy (Illinois)
vs.
Dallas Jesuit (Texas)

7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. EDT
John Carroll University (Ohio)
vs.
St. Norbert College (Wisconsin)



Saturday, Sept 1
Aviva Stadium
2 p.m. GMT/9 a.m. EDT via CBS
Notre Dame vs. Navy

CARLTON STOWERS has written for numerous publications, including Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Time and People. The author of more than two dozen nonfiction books, he makes his home in Cedar Hill, Texas.