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Sept. 11, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Officials from Ireland's Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Croke Park Stadium will be at Penn State this week for the U.S. launch of the Croke Park Classic between Penn State and UCF.
The first international contest for both teams will take place on August 30, 2014 at Croke Park, the headquarters of the GAA, in central Dublin. The contest was announced in July at Croke Park.
Officials from the GAA and Croke Park, as well as several media from Ireland, will arrive by Friday to continue planning for the 2014 season opener and attend Saturday's 6 p.m. game between the Nittany Lions (2-0) and Knights (2-0).
Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers' team chairman and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, after whom the Croke Park Classic trophy is being named, is scheduled to attend Saturday's primetime game. Among the officials visiting Happy Valley from Ireland are: Páraic Duffy, GAA Director General and Peter McKenna, Stadium and GAA Commercial Director.
Duffy and Rooney will participate in the coin toss prior to the third all-time meeting between Penn State and UCF.
"We are looking forward to welcoming our guests from Ireland, UCF and Ambassador Rooney," said Dave Joyner, Penn State Director of Athletics. "The Irish are very excited about this game and our fans are excited about it. It's a great way to give our football team and University a marquee location to play and visit. Our visit in July only reinforced our reasons for wanting to come and play in Dublin. Because of the Irish people and their hospitality, Penn State fans are going to love their time there next August."
The winning team in the Croke Park Classic will earn the Dan Rooney Trophy, which will be on display before Saturday's game. The Dan Rooney Trophy is a replica football made of bog yew and Pittsburgh steel. The yew comes from what remains of forests that grew 4,200 years ago and lie deep in the Irish midlands. The steel is left from the construction of Heinz Field, the home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.
In preparation for the Croke Park Classic, the visitors from Ireland will have an opportunity to meet with a variety of Penn State staff, visit Beaver Stadium and football facilities to continue working on logistics for both teams' trips and the game. The 6 p.m. kickoff also provides an opportunity for UCF staff to participate in a planning meeting Saturday morning.
Officials from Tourism Ireland and Anthony Travel, the official tour provider for the Croke Park Classic, also will visit with Penn State and UCF staff this weekend.
Capacity at Croke Park will be 69,000 for the contest. The GAA has approximately 700,000 members worldwide, with Croke Park hosting the annual All-Ireland Finals of Hurling and Gaelic Football every September.
The Penn State-UCF 2014 contest will be the eighth American college football game held in Ireland. The last American football game hosted in Croke Park was in 1996 when Notre Dame played Navy. The Irish and Mids played in Dublin's Aviva Stadium to open the 2012 season.
Penn State will be the first Big Ten Conference team to play internationally since Michigan State and Wisconsin met in Tokyo in the 1993 regular season finale. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien worked with UCF coach George O'Leary at Georgia Tech. O'Brien was a member of O'Leary's staff from 1995-2001 and they helped the Yellow Jackets win the 1998 Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Fans interested in traveling to Ireland for the historic game can do so on the Official Penn State Tour, presented by the Penn State Alumni Association and the Nittany Lion Club. Packages include accommodations at three-, four- or five-star hotels, game tickets, an exclusive private party at the world-famous Guinness Storehouse, excursion tours, gameday transportation, a full Irish breakfast each morning and much more.
Croke Park Classic game tickets are currently available only through the Official Penn State Tour.
For complete information on travel packages for this first of its kind opportunity for Penn State, visit PSU.CrokeParkClassic.com. Tickets for Saturday's Penn State-UCF contest, and all Nittany Lion home games, are available at www.GoPSUsports.com or by calling 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
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