Georgia Tech to play Florida State in Ireland in 2024

Georgia Tech punter David Shanahan against North Carolina on September 25, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

Credit: Danny Karnik

Credit: Danny Karnik

Georgia Tech punter David Shanahan against North Carolina on September 25, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

Georgia Tech is going back to Ireland. After a successful trip to the European nation in 2016, the Yellow Jackets will open their 2024 season against Florida State at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Tech announced the game Wednesday morning, two days ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.

The game will take place Aug. 24, a week before the traditional Labor Day weekend start of the college football season. Tech will become the fourth team to play more than one game in Ireland, following Notre Dame, Navy and Boston College. While the fact that the Jackets have a player from Ireland on scholarship – punter David Shanahan – distinguishes the team, the fact that more than 12,000 Tech fans traveled to Dublin in support of the team in 2016 likely was more of a factor in the invitation.

Tech held a news conference in the afternoon that included representation from the Irish government, the Irish consulate in Atlanta, the ACC, presenting sponsor Aer Lingus (an Irish airline) as well as Tech president Ángel Cabrera, athletic director J Batt and coach Brent Key. Batt and other school officials had been working with the ACC, game organizers and Florida State since the fall to pull it together. While Tech will have to give up a home game against a traditional rival, Batt was enthusiastic about the opportunity to provide players with an unusual cultural experience.

“Pretty awesome opportunity for our kids, primarily, but also our fans and alums,” Batt said.

Aer Lingus has put on an annual game in Dublin. This year, Notre Dame will play Navy on Aug. 26.

“The players are really fired up,” Key said. “Announcing it (Wednesday), they were excited. The opportunity to go do something different, do something special, and for those guys, to be able to experience something they’ve never done (is important).”

In Tech’s 2016 game, the Jackets rallied in the final minute to beat Boston College 17-14 on a rain-soaked afternoon. It was the first game that Tech had ever played off American soil. Irish minister for housing, local government and heritage Darragh O’Brien, who has been in Georgia this week, said that Tech fans left “a lasting impression” in Dublin.

“I think some of them haven’t come back yet,” he said.

Without Florida State, Tech has six home games in 2024. The Jackets are to play Georgia State (Aug. 31, the week after the game in Ireland), VMI (Sept. 14), Notre Dame (Oct. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Clemson, Wake Forest and Pitt at home. Playing in “Week Zero” gives the Jackets an unusual benefit for that season. As there will be 14 Saturdays remaining in the regular season in 2024, Tech will have three open dates during the season. Playing ahead of the traditional start of the regular season also likely will give the Jackets (and Florida State) a larger-than-usual viewing audience.

“I feel really good about our team and the opportunity to play on national TV in front of everybody in Week Zero is huge,” Batt said.

For Shanahan and his family and friends, it surely will be an unforgettable experience. Shanahan grew up playing Gaelic football, rugby and basketball in County Kerry, but became intrigued by college football at the age of 16. Seeking a path to the game, he taught himself to punt and then earned an invitation to an Australian punting academy, which led to his scholarship offer from Tech. The first football game he ever attended also was the first game he ever played in, Tech’s 2021 season opener against Northern Illinois. Shanahan has been Tech’s starting punter for the past two seasons and was the grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Atlanta on Saturday.

When the team was told about the trip Wednesday morning, “We instantly looked at David for his reaction, and he was really speechless because you don’t really get the opportunity to go back home a lot and perform on a big stage,” Tech safety Clayton Powell-Lee said.