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Thursday 18 September 2014

Croke Park drinks ban lifted for US football match but not for GAA games

Emma Jane Hade and Sam Griffin

Published 30/08/2014 | 02:30

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Tyler Peterson at the pep rally in Temple Bar. Photo: Arthur Carron
Penn State cheerleader Maddy Miller at the pep rally

FANS of US sport will be treated to the full American college football experience in Croke Park - including being allowed to bring beer back to their seats in the stand.

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Unlike GAA fixtures, where the consumption of alcohol is highly regulated and strictly limited to cordoned off areas at the back of stands, fans today will be allowed to bring their beers to their seats without missing any of the action.

The change from normal practice is allowed as the 'Croke Park Classic' - the college football game being contested today between and University of Central Florida and Penn State - is classed as a non-GAA event. As a result, different rules will be in place governing the consumption of alcohol.

"There are GAA events and non-GAA events. We are renting the stadium out in essence to a different fixture. Everything will be done as would be done in an American football game," a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 American visitors descended on the capital ahead of this afternoon's college football fixture. The game will open the season for both sides and will be broadcast on ESPN in the US.

Businesses have welcomed the fixture, as the special event is understood to be worth at least €30m to the economy.

The toes of thousands of American football fans tapped the cobbled streets of Temple Bar yesterday afternoon, where both teams had gathered to hold their traditional pre-match pep rallies.

Squads of cheerleaders clad with colourful pompoms refused to let the misty rain dampen their spirits and kept the fans entertained as they led the rallying cries.

But it was the travelling fans of UCF who bellowed the loudest as team coach George O'Leary came to the stage and collected a certificate celebrating his Irish heritage from Dublin city Lord Mayor Christy Burke.

"This was a big surprise," a visibly emotional Mr O'Leary said afterwards. "Both sets of my grandparents were born in Ireland, I have cousins over here still. I really am delighted to get it. It is going to hang in my home in a very special place."

Video: Cork-born American football star to fulfil childhood dream of playing at Croke Park 

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