Irish officials take in Georgia Tech home game

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia Tech did more than show off some good football Saturday. It also got to show off its stadium, campus and fan base to Irish officials during a 48-13 win over visiting South Carolina State at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Dara Calleary, Ireland’s minister of state for trade promotion, digital and company regulation, was among Irish dignitaries visiting Atlanta, and Tech, over the weekend. He took some time to speak with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the Yellow Jackets’ first win of the season.

Tech will begin the 2024 season Aug. 24 against Florida State at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

“Dublin’s a lucky venue for Tech,” Calleary quipped.

The Yellow Jackets started their 2016 season in Dublin with a 17-14 victory over Boston College thanks to a Dedrick Mills 4-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left. Tech will be looking for another victory nearly 4,000 miles from home next August and Calleary urged Tech fans to make the trek across the Atlantic to support the Jackets.

“We’re taking in this experience, how you’ve opened up your city for fans. We want to make (the 2024 game) as fan-friendly as possible,” Calleary said. “We have people from Aer Lingus (airlines) working on how we can get people over. We have people from our biggest hotel group, Delata, working on hotel rooms.

“So don’t make it just a trip to the game. Build experiences around it.”

Calleary said part of his five-day trip to Atlanta, which included a visit to The King Center on Saturday morning, was to get a better feel for Tech fans and how they celebrate Tech football. He also met with Tech’s vice provost office and said Tech’s vision is, “very much an Irish vision in terms of education. The roundness of education and the ambition of education. That’s something we are very much a part of in Ireland.”

Calleary was scheduled to meet with members and leaders of the Irish community Sunday before a full day of meetings Tuesday with local and regional business before flying to Texas on Tuesday.

Members of the Tech program, including junior punter David Shanahan, visited Dublin and Ireland in July. Shanahan is an Irish native and was able to give a tour of his hometown of Castleisland to those who made the trip. On Saturday, Calleary got to watch Shanahan in person and noted how college football fans reminded him how Irish fans celebrate their respective Gaelic football clubs.

He added he’s excited to see that passion at Aviva Stadium less than a year from now when the Jackets face the Seminoles.

“Get there. You get a chance to go follow your team,” Calleary said. “The alumni experience, bring it to Dublin. We want to experience that too.”