ESPN America reported live from the Emerald Isle Classic in Dublin covering the game between Notre Dame and Navy. Aaron Murphy and I went behind the scenes for coverage of practice sessions, interviews with players, coaches, special guests and VIPs, associated events and much more.
DAY THREE – GAMEDAY: Saturday 1st September – Aviva Stadium
Final wrap from Patrick Sturgeon
On a beautiful day in Ireland sports fans were treated to a spectacle of American football. The Navy made their presence known when hundreds of sailors marched on to the field during an elaborate pre-game ceremony.
Notre Dame honored their Irish hosts by wearing the orange, white and green colors of the Irish flag on their gloves, undershirts, socks and shoes. And I could not help but to notice their freshly painted helmets glistening in the midday sun … they were truly the Golden Domers in Ireland.
I decided to watch the first half of the game on the sideline to soak up the atmosphere. Notre Dame took the opening kick-off and promptly drove 75 yards for their first points of the season. Teo Riddick’s 11-yard touchdown run gave the Irish a 6-0 lead.
Navy’s first possession ended at the Notre Dame 30 yard line, when they failed to convert on 4th down and 1. It was a sign of things to come.
The highlight of Notre Dame’s second possession was George Atkinson III electrifying 56 yard touchdown run to put the Fighting Irish up 13-0 at the end of the first quarter. Notre Dame scored their third consecutive touchdown courtesy of Quarterback Everett Golson’s short pass to tight end Tyler Eifert who made a leaping catch between two Navy defenders. 20-0 Irish.
After looking very nervous at the start, Navy started to look like a football team. With military-like precision, the Midshipmen marched down the field and looked on the verge of scoring when disaster struck. Navy QB Trey Miller fumbled and defensive end Stephon Tuitt picked up the ball and rumbled 75 yards for touchdown. At 6’3 and 300 pounds, I mean rumbled, even a speedster like Miller could not catch him. Notre Dame upped their lead to 27-0
Navy finally got on the board with a field goal at the end of the first half, but still trailed 27-3 at the break
I decided to watch the second half from the press box. I found it kind of fitting that the Notre Dame marching band played their “Victory March” at halftime. Talk about confidence, I was later told they do that at home games in South Bend, Indiana, but it was also kind of prophetic.
Navy started the second half with a quick score in less than a minute. Trey Miller’s 25 yard touchdown strike to Shawn Lynch capped a 3-play, 75 yard drive, but the 10 points were all Navy were going score at the Aviva Stadium.
A few minutes later, some prankster wearing a Union Jack woolly hat ran on to the field to halt the game. He was just standing in the endzone and doing a jig to the amusement of the players and crowd. At least he brought his own ball. In America, there would have been 20 guys chasing him in seconds; here in Ireland, the crowd gave him a chance to see if he had any talent. You know they like their talent shows over here. After about 30 seconds, he ran off the field by himself. They fans sitting behind me behind me thought it was pretty funny and so did I.
Perhaps inspired by the comedian, the Irish showed their own talent and went on another scoring drive. George Atkinson III walked into the endzone for a second time to give ND a 33 to 10 lead. Theo Riddick added his second touchdown of the game moments later as the Irish extended their lead to 40-10 with just over 4 minutes left in 3rd quarter.
Navy’s next drive ended with an interception by Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o, (you will see him and Tyler Eifert in NFL next year and you can see Tyler in our video above right). Coach Brian Kelly gave his starting QB Everett Golson the 4th quarter off and sent in Andrew Hendrix. Golson looked sharp while throwing for 144 yards and a touchdown in his Notre Dame debut. Riddick ended up with 108 yards and Atkinson finished with 99, the Irish ran for over 300 yards.
With the game winding down the crowd began doing the predictable wave throughout the stadium. But I have to say, I have never seen it performed to Billy Idol’s Dancing with Myself.
Notre Dame’s Roddy Toma finished off the scoring in the closing minutes with another touchdown and the Irish walked out of Aviva Stadium with a convincing 50-10 victory.
After the final whistle sounded, both teams joined forces and sang their respective alma mater’s song. You have to remember, Notre Dame and Navy have been playing each other for 86 consecutive years, so the respect is mutual.
The Irish may have gotten the better of the Midshipmen today. But the venue, Dublin, Ireland will forever be entrenched in their minds many years from now. I know I will never forget my experience either. Look out for my follow up article about the entire weekend in the near future.
Afternoon: More from before the Emerald Isle Classic
Video: Aaron interviewed two high ranking Navy Officials and Right.
Video: We caught up with each team’s traditional pregame celebrations.
Midday: PreGame on the field of play!
Video: Murph and I got up close and personal with the two teams 90 minutes before the Emerald Isle Classic kicked off in Dublin. The Aviva Stadium looked a picture and will be overflowing come game time. The weather gods have also smiled as we are blessed with 30 degrees of sun. Game On!
DAY TWO: Friday 31st August
Evening: Div III Football at Donnybrook Park, Dublin
Aaron and I were the guests of Axonista at the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) event at Old Wesley Rugby Club where we watched two great games of American football – one high school (Loyola Academy, Chicago, IL vs Jesuit Prep, Dallas, TX) and one college – which formed part of the Global Ireland Football Tournament.
John Carroll University (Ohio) [pictured above] breezed past St Norbert College (Wisconsin) 40-3 in the first NCAA D-III college football regular season game played overseas since 1992 as US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney (chairman emeritus of the Pittsburgh Steelers) was among 4,000 fans packed into Donnybrook Stadium, the traditional home of European rugby union champions Leinster rugby.
Afternoon: Navy Practice at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Video: Aaron and Patrick attended Navy’s practice at the Landsdowne Rugby practice field. The Midshipmen held a spirited, light-hearted workout where the players had fun and stretched their legs.
Aaron spoke with Navy QB Trey Miller about preparations for the game. Then Aaron and Patrick moved inside the impressive Aviva Stadium to preview the Emerald Isle Classic.
Morning: USS Fort McHenry in Dublin Harbor
We started off the morning with a tour of the USS Fort McHenry, which is docked here in Dublin Harbor. Talk about bringing in your big guns for the game. This Navy ship was massive. We were part of the media tour organised by Lieutenant Sean Riordan, Assistant Public Affairs Officer.
We were introduced to members of the crew from the Navy and the Marines on board. Ensign Laura Price gave everyone a tour of the deck and the wheelhouse. Our hosts were extremely professional and polite, the tour went like clock work, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from the US Navy. The highlight of the tour was Aaron’s interview [above right] with Commander Eric Kellum, Executive Officer, USS Fort McHenry, basically the number two guy onboard this Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship. He is a huge football fan and is hoping the Navy can get a win on Saturday to avenge the loss the Midshipmen suffered to Notre Dame in the 1996 game here in Dublin.
DAY ONE: Thursday, 30th August
Notre Dame Practice – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Video: The Fighting Irish held its first open practice at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin ahead of the Emerald Isle Classic game against the Navy. Newly-named starting Quarterback Everett Golston (#5) was seen strutting his stuff along with the other QBs, while the rest of squad went about their work in sunny but very windy conditions.
VIDEO: During our trip to Paris for Euro Jam, we met up with one man who knows about travel logistics. Jim O’Connor – VP of Collegiate Travel for Anthony Travel spoke to our own Aaron Murphy. Jim was not only involved with Euro Jam, but he is also responsible for getting 10,000 Notre Dame fans to Dublin from the USA ahead of this weekend’s big game. Talk about a pressure cooker of a job!
VIDEO: Notre Dame name Everett Golson as the starting QB for the Emerald Isle Classic.
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