UCF, Penn State Agree to Kick Off 2014 Season in Dublin, Ireland

GO KNIGHTS Head Coach George O'Leary and PSU Athletic Director Dave Joyner get their first taste of hurling at Croke Park Sunday.
Head Coach George O'Leary and PSU Athletic Director Dave Joyner get their first taste of hurling at Croke Park Sunday.

July 14, 2013

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By Brian Ormiston

DUBLIN, Ireland (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF and Penn State, in conjunction with the Gaelic Athletic Association, will travel across the Atlantic Ocean to open the 2014 football season. The Croke Park Classic is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET Saturday, Aug, 30, 2014, in Dublin, Ireland, and will air on ESPN2.

The announcement was made during the GAA Leinster Football Finals at Croke Park with members of each institution present, including UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury and Head Coach George O'Leary.

At this time, all U.S. fans can guarantee their seats for the Croke Park Classic by purchasing the Official UCF Ireland Experiences provided by Anthony Travel, the Knights' and the Croke Park Classic's official travel partner. These packages will provide Knights fans the ability and convenience to enjoy Ireland and UCF-specific events with fellow Knights supporters leading up to the game.

Check out http://UCF.CrokeParkClassic.com or call Anthony Travel at 877-260-0645 for all of the details. Seating will be based on GKC priority points. Season ticket holders and donors who order packages by Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, will receive priority for ticket allocation. After GKC priority point holders are seated, general public fans will have their seats assigned based on purchase date. To learn more about the GKC, visit http://UCFGoldenKnightsClub.com.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for UCF to continue growing its reputation around the world," Stansbury said. "We are educators and this will be a learning experience for these young people. The chance to introduce this group of Knights to another country and another culture will serve them well in the future. Traveling overseas will provide our student-athletes a unique experience they will remember the rest of their lives. We look forward to joining Penn State in this memorable trip to Ireland."

"We are very excited about the prospect of playing our 2014 season opener in Dublin," said Coach O'Leary. "It's a great opportunity for UCF, and a chance for us to grow the exposure of our football program.

"On a personal level, obviously Coach (Bill) O'Brien (Penn State) and myself are both of Irish heritage, so obviously it means a great deal to both of us to be in a position to bring our teams here. We are confident that Croke Park will be an excellent venue for us to play in, we have been hugely impressed to date with the facilities and we are looking forward to a huge crowd to get our 2014 season off to a flying start. We are confident that Croke Park will generate an unforgettable atmosphere for this game."

"We are thrilled to announce that we will play UCF at Croke Park to open the 2014 season," O'Brien said. "Our players and coaches are so excited to go to Ireland and play a college football game in such a historic and outstanding venue. I have great respect for Coach O'Leary and his team and playing UCF in Ireland will be a fantastic experience for all the players, coaches and fans."

Both coaches are very familiar with each other, as Coach O'Brien served under Coach O'Leary while the duo was at Georgia Tech. And not only do they both have Irish backgrounds, UCF placekicker Sean Galvinhails from the city of Cork, which is just less than a 3-hour drive southwest of Dublin. Galvin, who handled kickoff duties for the Knights last season, is set to be a junior this year.

"This is an exciting announcement, not only for UCF and Penn State, but for the American Athletic Conference and the Big Ten Conference as well," American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said. "This game reflects the creative scheduling that will energize our conference. The game also serves a larger purpose of providing our student-athletes with a valuable cultural experience while contributing to the growth of college football on the world stage.

"There will be tremendous anticipation for this special contest. We know that ESPN2 will produce a terrific telecast that will capture the uniqueness of the Dublin venue and will be the only live game on television in that time slot."

"This is a hugely significant event for Croke Park and Ireland. We in the GAA are looking forward to hosting a competitive sporting occasion," said Páraic Duffy, GAA Director General. "Irish people are renowned for their love of sport as evidenced by the thousands who attend our games throughout the year. I have no doubt that this game will be every bit as attractive."

"This will be a fantastic event for Croke Park and for Ireland," Minister of Transport Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said. "The Navy vs. Notre Dame (game) in 2012 welcomed 35,000 U.S. visitors to Dublin. The Croke Park Classic will be every bit as important, and just as exciting, and both teams are guaranteed a warm welcome. It's great news for sports fans, for the GAA and the wider economy. I congratulate everyone involved on making this possible."

2014 UCF Football Non-Conference Schedule
Saturday, Aug. 30 - vs. Penn State (Dublin, Ireland)
Saturday, Sept. 6 - FIU
Saturday, Sept. 13 - at Missouri
Saturday, Oct. 11 - BYU

The 2014 slate will be the ninth consecutive year the Knights will have at least six regular-season home games. It also will be the third straight campaign the Knights will not have an opponent from the FCS level. This upcoming season in 2013, UCF will be hosting South Carolina in non-conference play, marking the second straight year it will have entertained a team from the SEC.

This will mark the first time for both UCF and Penn State (which tangle in Pennsylvania Sept. 14, 2013) that the two schools will play a college football game in another country. The Knights' only other experience with a foreign environment was when it defeated the Moscow Bears, 43-6, in an exhibition game at the Florida Citrus Bowl Oct. 3, 1992.

According to NCAA records, there have been seven regular-season games between NCAA programs in Ireland. The last contest held at Croke Park took place in 1996 when Notre Dame defeated Navy, 54-27, and seating capacity for the 2013 Croke Park Classic will be 69,000.

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

Ireland is one of several countries which have hosted college football games, including Australia, Japan, Italy, Germany and Bermuda. The city of Tokyo hosted one game every year from 1976-93.

For a full list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding traveling to Ireland, and to follow the 2014 Croke Park Classic through social media, check out these links:

UCF.CrokeParkClassic.com / Croke Park Classic on Twitter / Croke Park Classic on Facebook