ND-Navy coin toss, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland in 2012 (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A “home opener” 3613 miles from home.

Notre Dame is listed as the “home” team for this week’s opener against Navy.  That is a bit ironic when you consider that Dublin Ireland is thousands of miles from Notre Dame Stadium.  But you don’t have to look at this trip too close to see that Notre Dame does indeed have a “home” on the Emerald Isle. 

Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” identity is of course well documented and Dublin has been the site of two previous Notre Dame contests, both against Navy.

In 1996 Lou Holtz was in charge when the Fighting Irish traveled to Dublin for the the first ever Collegiate football game played in Ireland. The game was contested at historic Croke Park in front of nearly 39,000 fans.  That day, the duo of Autry Denson and Marc Edwards combined for 5 TDs and the Irish racked up 303 yards on the ground as the Irish prevailed 54-27. 

In 2012 on the other side of town at Aviva Stadium, this time in front of a capacity crowd of 51,700, the Irish again ran wild, this time for 293 yards.  Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III scored two touchdowns each and Stephon Tuitt picked up a Navy fumble and returned it 77 yards for another score. 

The Irish again won big, this time 50-10. That game served as a springboard for the team as the Irish went on to an undefeated regular season, was ranked #1 in the nation by mid-November and played in the BCS Championship game.

This week’s game in Dublin was originally scheduled for 2020 but the pandemic had other ideas. 

And that brings us to 2023 and sky-high blue and gold AND green expectations are in the air.  Sam Hartman, Audric Estime, a loaded offensive line and a host of veterans on defense. 

Notre Dame Football kicks off its 133 season this week and the journey will begin thousands of miles away, but it will be in a place where the Fighting Irish have reason, to feel right at home.

ByPhil Houk

For over 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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