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Local business, students plan to celebrate game

Kristen Durbin | Friday, August 31, 2012

Stateside football fans may not have traveled across the pond to see the football team take on the Midshipmen this weekend, but they still plan to celebrate the Emerald Isle Classic with Irish gusto.

While many students may elect to hold conventional game watches in their dorm rooms, common areas, apartments or houses, some will begin celebrating the night before the 9 a.m. kickoff.

Senior Emily Hefferon said she and her friends plan to have a sleepover at her off-campus house and start the morning off with coffee and breakfast.

“That way, no one has to wake up at 8:30 and drive,” she said. “We’ll all just be here.”

Hefferon said the football season opener’s overseas location has both pros and cons.

“I’m sad that [the game] is not here, but it’s so cool that we have a game in Dublin,” she said. “I’m just really excited about that. It would be much more disappointing if the first game were in Oklahoma or something.”

Senior Dave Lawson said the game’s location holds a special significance for him.

“I studied in Dublin last summer as part of the first summer program to go there from Notre Dame, so I’m going to have some of my Dublin friends over to watch the game,” he said.

While he reminisces about his semester in Ireland, Lawson said he decided to use the special circumstances of the game to promote Southern Tide, an apparel company for which he serves as campus ambassador.

On gameday, Lawson said he plans to hold a private Southern Tide event at his off-campus home as well as visit some residence halls on campus throughout the day.

“As a college ambassador, you want to maintain the integrity of Southern Tide as a brand name by sharing it and sharing ideas with other students who are unfamiliar with the brand name,” he said. “That said, tailgating and pregames for football games would be a great way to promote brand awareness for Southern Tide.”

Notre Dame’s storied football tradition also creates a good environment for spreading the word about Southern Tide through product giveaways and raffles, Lawson said.

“With a huge football program comes a lot of spectators, and the Navy-Notre Dame rivalry is a classic one,” he said. “It’s the first game of the season, so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to explain to people what Southern Tide is.”

Students and members of the South Bend community will also be able to celebrate in local pubs and restaurants like O’Rourke’s Public House.

O’Rourke’s manager Andrew Pankowski said his pub has been planning its Saturday morning “Kegs and Eggs” event for the past three months.

“We knew this was going to be a big deal for a long time now, especially with everything going on with the game in Ireland and with the rivalry with Navy,” he said.

The pub will open before kickoff at 8 a.m. with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet featuring deep-fried pigs in a blanket, assorted breakfast food items and drink specials, Pankowski said.  

Pankowski said business at O’Rourke’s fluctuates based on the relative success of the Irish football team.

“Our entire year pretty much rotates around football season,” he said. “It’s our bread and butter and it’s what really pays the bills. Last year was really on and off during away games, so it really depends on what kind of season we’re having. If [the team is] doing really well, we have more people, especially towards the beginning of the year.”

O’Rourke’s also recently began a partnership with the Notre Dame Athletic Department, so it now serves as an official gamewatch location for all Notre Dame away games, Pankowski said.

But win or lose, O’Rourke’s always provides a lively environment for a gamewatch for Irish fans, Pankowski said.

“We did some remodeling over the summer … that makes it family friendly for all ages, so you can be in here even if you’re not 21,” he said. “We’ll be celebrating all day just like any other football weekend. It’s usually a party here no matter how many people turn up for it.”