Sept. 14, 2013
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
Story By Andy Seeley
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – At first, Dan Rooney was reluctant to have his name put on a trophy. But after some encouragement from Paraic Duffy and Peter McKenna of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Rooney finally consented.
Rooney, the chairman of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, also served as the United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12. Based on his strong connection to American football and to Ireland, it was a natural. Rooney joined Duffy, UCF Vice President and Athletics Director Todd Stansbury and Penn State Director of Athletics Dave Joyner prior to Saturday’s game at Beaver Stadium to discuss the Dan Rooney Trophy and the Croke Park Classic. The Nittany Lions and Knights will face off for the trophy to open the 2014 season in Dublin, Ireland.
“Being associated with the U.S. and football … and sport in Ireland, I was very much honored,” Rooney said. “Peter McKenna was the one who asked me. I said, ‘I don’t deserve that. You should get someone Irish.’ He said ‘we definitely want you because we’re going to play American football.’ It means an awful lot now. It’s a real honor for me.”
Duffy said it took a little cajoling on the part of the GAA, but they are thrilled to have Rooney’s name on the trophy and to be able to join him at Saturday’s game in State College.
“Ambassador Rooney was reluctant to have the trophy named after him, because he’s a very humble man,” Duffy said. “We were very persistent and insistent and eventually we were able to persuade him.
“I’m particularly pleased to be in the company of Ambassador Rooney,” Duffy continued. “He’s an extremely positive figure in Ireland and a great friend of the GAA. We’re particularly pleased the trophy the two schools are going to be playing for is the Dan Rooney Trophy. I couldn’t think of anybody better to lend his name to it.
As for the trophy itself, it 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 Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We think it’s a very special trophy,” Duffy said. “Ireland as a country has a long, long history and we wanted to do something very special. It’s a very special trophy for a very special game.”