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July 9, 2013

UCF, Penn State to open 2014 season in Ireland

Time to check those passports.

UCF and Penn State have finalized terms with the Gaelic Athletic Association to open the 2014 football season in Ireland.

The news was first reported on Monday by Ryan Snyder of BlueWhiteIllustrated.com, whose sources told him the official announcement is scheduled for this Sunday. The Irish Times published a similar report on Tuesday.


The game had been in the planning stages for several months. UCF coach George O'Leary spoke about the possibility at the Hometown Huddle event on May 7.

"It would be a great experience for our program, a great experience for our university and a great experience for our fanbase," O'Leary said.

This will be the fifth college football game to be played in Ireland. In 1988, Boston College defeated Army 38-24, and a year later in 1989 Pittsburgh took down Rutgers, 46-29. In 1996, Notre Dame defeated Navy, 54-27. The two teams met again last season with the Irish once again prevailing, 50-10.

The UCF-Penn State game will be played in historic Croke Park, which seats 82,300. The 2012 Navy-Notre Dame game was held in a newer venue, Aviva Stadium, which was packed to a near-capacity 48,820.

College football could become a regular occurrence in Dublin: TheScore.ie, an Irish website, reports the GAA is looking to host additional regular season college football games in 2016 and 2018.

Penn State hosts UCF in State College, Pa., on Sept. 14. While the head coach at Georgia Tech in the mid-1990s, O'Leary gave Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien his first FBS coaching position and eventually promoted him to offensive coordinator. O'Brien has described O'Leary as his coaching mentor.

The August 30, 2014 game in Ireland will serve as the back-end of the two-game series between the two schools, replacing the return game which would have been at UCF. As such, it is believed the television rights would fall under the American Athletic Conference's deal with ABC and ESPN.

Last year's Navy-Notre Dame contest kicked off at 2 p.m. Dublin time, which was 9 a.m. on the east coast.





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