WASHINGTON -- The ambassador of Ireland to the United States held an evening reception, July 5, in Washington, D.C., to wish the Naval Academy football team luck as they prepare to play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Sept. 1, at a sold-out Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
Michael Collins hosted Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller and more than 100 guests at the evening's event.
Billed as the "Emerald Isle Classic," the game will be the first played between Navy and Notre Dame in Ireland since 1996, and will showcase one of the finest sporting traditions in American college football. Tickets sold out in less than two hours when they went on sale in Ireland a few months ago. It also marks the largest ever contingent of traveling fans for a stand-alone sporting event outside the U.S., with over 33,000 making the trip to Ireland. The game will be televised Sept. 1, on CBS at 9 a.m. Eastern.
Collins praised the Naval Academy and welcomed guests to Ireland during his remarks.
"Midshipmen of the Naval Academy represent the American spirit of honor, service, leadership and dedication and we are honoured that Dublin will play host to what is an historic rivalry between two of the world's most famous schools," Collins said. "There have been some who have suggested to me that the Irish may have a bias toward Notre Dame for some reason. I hope that tonight will go some way to dispelling that notion - we love Navy too! We welcomed over a million Americans to Ireland as visitors last year but we are always keen to welcome more."
Mabus praised the global partnership between the Navy and Ireland.
"If you look at the list of commanders and Sailors in the American Navy, from as far back as the war of 1812, you will be struck by the great number of Irish descendants who served aboard those ships," Mabus said. "We continue to do that today, serving shoulder to shoulder in places throughout the world."
Enda Kenny T.D., An Taoiseach (prime minister of Ireland), said in a video message, Ireland and America enjoy a unique and vibrant relationship.
"So many Americans can trace their roots back to Ireland and in almost every corner of America there is Irish-America," Kenny said. "We are very proud and delighted that the links between our two countries are enduring and so strongWe hope that you will come back again next year for The Gathering 2013 when we invite anyone who has Irish blood, a link to Ireland or simply a love of our country to come and visit Ireland for a series of amazing and diverse events throughout all of next year."
The Navy-Notre Dame series has been played annually since 1927, making it the longest uninterrupted intersectional series in college football. Navy has emerged victorious in three of the past five years making the fixture a lot more competitive after decades of Notre Dame victories.