Georgia Tech’s football team will return to Ireland for next year’s football opener in a contest that Atlanta boosters will likely once again use to showcase the city to Irish investors.
On Aug. 24, 2024, the Yellow Jackets will square off against Florida State University in Dublin, where they defeated Boston College in 2016 with a last-minute touchdown in their first ever overseas football game, the Aer Lingus College Football Classic.
The announcement came two days ahead of St. Patrick’s Day during a visit to Atlanta by Darragh O’Brien, the Irish minister of housing, local government and heritage.
At a press conference, Mr. O’Brien said Georgia Tech’s dramatic win seven years was still remembered, and that next year’s game at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium — normally used for soccer and rugby — would likely bring another sold-out crowd of 40,000-plus.
More than 1.2 million people watched the 2016 game, and organizers expect that number to eclipse 4 million in 2024.
“I know that back in Ireland this announcement will be greeted with much excitement, and people will welcome it greatly,” said Mr. O’Brien, who has been on an extensive tour of Georgia this week meeting with companies, heritage groups and government officials.
Georgia Tech alum and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Mr. O’Brien said, was elated when the minister whispered the news about the football game before the reveal.
“Sport transcends many things, and sport brings people together, and there is a real interest in Ireland in American football,” said Mr. O’Brien.
Look no further than Georgia Tech for an example: Punter David Shanahan hails from Ireland and was among the Tech team members smiling when a video revealed they would cross the pond next year.
John Anthony, the founder of Irish American Events Ltd. and the Aer Lingus Classic, said the contest is “much more than a game,” but also a chance for young men to gain some global exposure.
“Our history tells us that 75 percent of the players, approximately, don’t have a passport right now, so to know that this will be the first international experience that these student-athletes ever get to have really is meaningful and impactful,” Mr. Anthony said.
If history serves as a guide, ticket holders will come from 20 countries and about 20,000 people will make the trip over the Atlantic, deepening the bonds between the U.S. and Ireland.
The teams will compete for the Keough-Naughton trophy, named for the late Irish-American Coca-Cola executive Don Keough and Martin Naughton, an Irish billionaire who made his fortune in appliances.