American football teams play in Dublin on Friday Night

Updated: August 29, 2012

12 American football teams play spectacular Dublin Friday Night Light Global Ireland Football Tournament in Dublin and Navan on Friday

The Global Ireland Football Tournament – GIFT 2012 – has been two years in the making and on the eve of Sunday’s other game, the Emerald Isle Classic, sports fans in Dublin and Navan will be treated to a showcase  six regular season games at three venues in and around the Irish capital on August 31.

The games, organized by Texas-based Global Football, will kick off at 4pm and 7.30pm local time at three venues usually reserved for Gaelic football, hurling and rugby.  But for this Dublin Friday Night Lights spectacular, Donnybrook Stadium and Parnell Park in Dublin and Páirc Tailteann in Navan, County Meath will all be painted with the gridiron and will welcome touchdowns, tackles, helmets and shoulder pads.

“There will be some intense and exciting games played on Irish soil on August 31,” said Patrick Steenberge, President of Global Football. “These are real, competitive, regular season games, not exhibitions. For most teams this will be their big season-opening game and for some their second of the new campaign and while they are excited to be visiting Ireland, make no mistake – they are here to win.

“So many people at the core of several sports in Ireland have welcomed this event with open arms. We have been overwhelmed by their passion for our game and their willingness to embrace this venture and to ensure the players, coaches, staff, families, friends, fans, cheerleaders and marching band members visiting Ireland enjoy the trip of a lifetime.”

Canada’s Oak Park High School (Winnipeg, MB) and Villanova College (King City, ON) arrived on Sunday and their practices near the Páirc Tailteann venue where they will meet on Friday night have already attracted hundreds of intrigued local fans.

The visiting American teams flew in from the United States on Wednesday morning to commence two days of practicing and sightseeing before hitting the gridiron.

While the games in Ireland will be the season openers for most teams, some schools played the first game of their 2012 season last weekend.

Loyola Academy warmed up for their clash with Jesuit Prep Dallas at Donnybrook Stadium by beating Simeon 20-0, while Hamilton High School suffered a surprise 17-14 loss to Phoenix Mountain Pointe.  It was the first time Hamilton has ever lost two straight games, coming on the back of a state championship game loss lasts season.

Fellow Arizona team Notre Dame Prep suffered a 42-0 loss to Tempe Marcos de Niza in the first game in school history without head coach Scot Bemis, who passed away in January after a battle with cancer.

Global Ireland Football Tournament Games Schedule

Friday, August 31

Donnybrook Stadium: Main Street, Donnybrook, Dublin
4pm   Loyola Academy (Wilmette, IL) vs. Jesuit Prep Dallas (Dallas, TX)
7.30pm   St Norbert College (De Pere, WI) vs. John Carroll University (University Heights, OH)

Parnell Park: Clancarthy Road, Donnycarney, Dublin
4pm   Kent School (Kent, CT) vs. National School of American Football (UK)
7.30pm   Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oak, CA) vs. Hamilton HS (Chandler, AZ)

Páirc Tailteann: Brews Hill, Navan, Co. Meath
4pm   Villanova College (King City, ON) vs. Oak Park High School (Winnipeg, MB)
7.30pm   Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, AZ) vs. Father Judge (Philadelphia, PA)

Tickets are available priced €15 at

Many of the 7 U.S. high school teams, 2 NCAA D-III college teams, 2 Canadian high school teams and a UK all-star team will be accompanied by marching bands and cheerleaders as Dublin and Navan embrace a long weekend full of all the flavors of American football.

The festivities begin at 5.30pm on Thursday, August 30, at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin City Centre when all participants march along a parade route to Trinity College for a Pep Rally at 6.30pm. With more than 30,000 gridiron fans expected to travel to Ireland in the last week of August, the town of Trim will add to the celebrations by holding the ‘Feile Americana’. The 5-day festival will showcase the very best of music, arts and cuisine from both sides of the Atlantic from August 29 to September 2.

Global Ireland Football Tournament Schedule At A Glance

Thursday, August 30
9am-11am   Teams practice at University College Dublin from (open to media only)
2pm-4pm   Teams practice at University College Dublin from (open to media only)
5.30pm      GIFT parade from St Stephen’s Green to Trinity College
6.30pm      Pep Rally at Trinity College

Friday, August 31
4pm      Games at Donnybrook Stadium, Parnell Park and Páirc Tailteann
7.30pm      Games at Donnybrook Stadium, Parnell Park and Páirc Tailteann

How the teams match up…

Donnybrook Stadium   4pm   Loyola Academy (Illinois) vs. Jesuit Prep Dallas (Texas)

Loyola Academy won the 2010 Chicago Catholic League Championship and the Prep Bowl Championship in 2008 and last season posted 13 wins before losing in the 8A Illinois State finals. During six years in charge, head coach and former NFL player John Holecek has led Loyola to the IHSA largest school division state playoffs each year. Opponent Jesuit Prep, Dallas is one of two private schools that is a member of the University Interscholastic League and competes in District 9 of Class 5A, the state’s largest classification. The Rangers went 8-2 under head coach Brandon Hickman in 2011 and reached first round of the state playoffs.

Donnybrook Stadium   7.30pm   St Norbert College (Wisconsin) vs.John Carroll University (Ohio)

St. Norbert College has won nine Midwest Conference championships, appearing in eight NCAA Division III playoffs under head coach Jim Purtill. The Green Knights finished the 2011 season with a 7-3 record, ensuring St Norbert has recorded at least seven wins in each of the past 13 seasons. Opponent John Carroll University finished 5-5 in 2011 under Regis Scafe, who is the longest-serving head coach in Blue Streaks football history. This will be the sixth time that John Carroll has been to Europe since 1994. Appointed in December of 1998, Coach Scafe has posted a record of 77-47 as John Carroll’s football director.

This will be the first regular season NCAA Division III college football game to be played in Europe since Bowdoin defeated Tufts, 7-6, on November 29, 1992, in Galway, Ireland.

Páirc Tailteann:   4pm   Villanova College (Ontario) vs. Oak Park High School (Manitoba)

Two Canadian high school teams meet at Páirc Tailteann and will play by Canadian rules, adding a unique flavor to the GIFT event. Villanova College was established in 1999 and the football program was started in 2002 under head coach Marcello Lio, who played American football with Bergamo and Nuremburg in Italy and Germany. Last season the Knights posted a 2-4 record. Opponent Oak Park High School suffered only one defeat in 2011 and reached the final of the Winnipeg High School Football League ANAVETS Bowl for the third year in a row as defending champions under head Coach Stuart Nixon, who has led the Raiders fortunes since 2003.

Some rule differences between Canadian and American Football:12 players on the field (11 in USA), only 3 downs to move the ball 10 yards (4 downs in USA),players other than the quarterback can be in forward motion prior to the ball being snapped (no motion in USA), only 20 seconds on the play clock (40 seconds in USA). Teams can score a ‘Rouge’ – Any kicked ball that lands in the end zone and is not a successful field goal or extra point, is considered live and if a player from the defending team then fails to return the ball out of the end zone, the kicking team scores one point. (No such rule in USA)

Páirc Tailteann:   7.30pm      Notre Dame Prep (Arizona) vs. Father Judge (Pennsylvania)

Notre Dame Prep won back-to-back Arizona Class 4A Division II championships in 2007 and 2008 and just missed out on the championship in 2010, losing a heartbreaking 49-48 game to Williams Field, then made the first round of the playoffs in 2011. Opponent from Philadelphia, Father Judge High School finished with a won 7, lost 4, record in 2011. The football program, which competes in the Philadelphia Catholic 4-A league, has won five championships (1964, 1975, 1981, 1983, 1984) and most recently reached the championship game in 2008.

Parnell Park:   7.30pm      Notre Dame HS (California) vs. Hamilton HS (Arizona)

Notre Dame High School football has been one of the most consistently successful programs in the state of California since 1993, and during that time has won 14 League Championships, four CIF Championships and has been CIF runner-up three times. Opponent Hamilton High School is one of the top football programs in Arizona and won three consecutive state titles from 2008 to 2010, achieved USA Today Top 10 national rankings, and also reached the state championship game in 2011. The Huskies also won in 2006 and claimed the Fiesta Region Championship in 11 of the past 12 years and 10 straight since 2002.

Parnell Park:   4pm   Kent School (Connecticut) vs. National School of American Football (UK)

Kent School completed an undefeated regular season in 2011, earning its fifth trip to a New England Bowl game in the past 11 years.  The team has also played in back-to-back New England Bowl games and has won 15 of its last 17 games.  During a 20-year tenure, coach Todd Marble has been recognized as Coach of the Year three times by the Northern Connecticut Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.  In opposition, the team representing the National School of American Football (NASF) has formed especially for the opportunity to compete against top-class opposition at GIFT 2012. Players have been selected from the UK under-19 ranks and are led by NSAF coach Tony Allen, a former Director of Football Development for NFL Europe.

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