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Looking Ahead to Football In Ireland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will open 2013 on the East Coast.  They will do the same in 2014, but on the East Coast of Ireland, and the two games will be 3,176 miles apart.

As announced on Sunday, Penn State is slated to play its first international game on Aug. 30, 2014 when the Lions battle Central Florida in the "Croke Park Classic" in Dublin at Croke Park.

While there are 12 games to play in 2013 before we shift focus solely on the trip to Ireland, let's take a look through some facts and figures on the first international game in Penn State Football history.

67410_10152056470633047_991485918_n.jpgCroke Park
Serving as both the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), ground was broken for Croke Park in 1884.  The stadium opened in 1913 (renovated in 2004).  Since 1884, the site has been used to host the Gaelic Games, notably the All-Ireland finals in soccer (football) and hurling.  Site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2003 Special Olympics, Croke Park is the fourth-largest stadium in Europe and the largest not primarily used for association football.  The pitch in Croke Park is a Desso GrassMaster pitch, which was laid in 2002. Among the numerous music artists Croke Park has hosted are Tina Turner, Garth Brooks, U2 and Bon Jovi.

Croke Park will be hosting its third American football game (second college football contest) when the Nittany Lions battle UCF on Aug. 30, 2014.  Notre Dame defeated Navy, 54-27, on Nov. 2, 1996.  The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Chicago Bears, 30-17, in the American Bowl on July 27, 1997.  Croke Park is located in North Dublin between
Drumcondra and Ballybough and is bordered by Jones Road to the west, Clonliffe Road to the north, St. James Avenue to the east and the Royal Canal to the south.  The stadium is approximately 1 km from the center of Dublin.

Dublin is the capital and most populous city of Ireland.  The city covers more than 44 square miles and holds a metro population of 1.8 million (525,000 in the city).  The city is located at the mouth of the River Liffey.  Dublin is bordered by a low mountain range to the south and surrounded by flat farmland to the north and west.  It has a maritime climate with mild winters, cool summers and a lack of temperature extremes.  The average high temperature in August is 67.3 degrees and the low is 55.9 degrees.

College Football International Game History
The Penn State-UCF contest will be the eighth college football regular season game in Ireland.  It will be just the fifth Division I FBS game held in Ireland.

- College Football Regular Season Games in Ireland
1988 - Boston College 38, Army 24 - Dublin, 45,525
1989 - Pittsburgh 46, Rutgers 29 - Dublin, 19,800
1991 - Holy Cross 24, Fordham 19 - Limerick, 17,411
1992 - Bowdoin 7, Tufts 6 - Galway, 2,500
1996 - Notre Dame 54, Navy 27 - Dublin, 38, 651
2012 - John Carroll 40, St. Norbert 3 - Dublin, 4,877
2012 - Notre Dame 50, Navy 10 - Dublin - 48,820

In all, there have been 36 regular season college football games held at international venues.  The list includes Ireland, Bermuda, Germany, Italy, England, Cuba, Japan and Australia.  Penn State will become just the third Big Ten team to play a regular season game outside of the United States.  Wisconsin defeated Michigan State, 41-20 on Dec. 5, 1993 in Tokyo.

- Dublin, Ireland is 3,328 miles from Beaver Stadium.
- A flight from a city on the United States East Coast to Dublin is approximately 6:45.  The return flight from Dublin back to the United States is approximately 7:30.
- Dublin is 288 miles from London (362 miles by land transport).
- A direct ferry from Dublin to the United Kingdom is roughly 3 hours and 25 minutes.
- Croke Park is 6.2 miles from Dublin Airport.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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