Guest post: Bringing American football to the Emerald Isle

Colum Cronin is co-founder and executive producer of the Irish NFL Show, a weekly podcast that combines insightful post-game analysis and good craic. A Denver Broncos fan, he has worked in higher education for 15 years, welcoming study abroad students from the United States to Dublin. Visit www.irishnflshow.com, or the verified Twitter account, @IreNFL. MH

***

During the 2020 COVID lockdowns, a group of Irish lads came together to start the Irish NFL Show. What began as a video podcast hobby to maintain our sanity has continued to grow and become the largest NFL program on the island of Ireland. It has gained respect on both sides of the Atlantic, with the aim of providing an Irish slant and insight on American football, as well as bringing key figures, guests, and U.S. views to an Irish audience.

Over the past three years we have released hundreds of episodes, presented live shows at historic Irish venues such as Croke Park and Aviva Stadium, and broadcast from the NFL’s international games in London and Munich. Our crowning moment was hosting a show live from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the 2022 Super Bowl, with technical support from broadcaster CBS. On Feb. 12, we will cover this year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

Our history

The story of how we became interested in the sport goes back more than 30 years. RTÉ (Ireland’s national broadcast network) began showing NFL games in 1985. However, the highlights, which were broadcast on Monday nights, were not from the weekend that had just ended, but from the one before that! This worked at the time because there was no coverage of the NFL in the Irish press and no internet for fans to check on score. The Super Bowl was only live game shown on Irish television screens.

From left to right: Mark Cockerill, Colum Cronin, Brian O’Leary and guest Scott Pioli, five-time NFL Executive of the Year, and the NFL Executive of the Decade for 2000-10.

Despite these slim pickings for NFL fans, people nevertheless grew to love the game. As the years rolled on, offerings slowly began to grow, with smatterings of highlight shows and games broadcast on the U.K.’s Channel 4. Fans also heard stories of their friends’ transatlantic visits to NFL stadiums across America. The pageantry of the live experience, including pre-game tailgating, was unlike anything in Ireland.

Over time a niche of the Irish population fell in love with American football and, indeed, this love stretched across all the teams in the NFL. My co-founder Brian O’Leary is a New York Giants fan, Mark Cockerill cheers for the New England Patriots.

Strong connections

The connections between Ireland and America are deep and historic, and these roots also exist through the NFL: from Paddy O’Driscoll, who played in the 1920s, to Tom Brady, from the influence of the Rooney and McCaskey families, as well as through coaches, players, and executives over the 100+ years of the league’s existence.

Our focus is on the expansion and growth of the game and delivering high-quality content and insights to the Irish and a wider international audience. In addition to discussing the latest news and trends in the NFL, we host a variety of guests, including current and former players, coaches, and other personalities from the league. Our guests have included: Rich Eisen, Mina Kimes, Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, Colleen Wolfe, Joe Schoen, Jane Slater, Mickey Loomis, Justin Simmons, Kalyn Kahler, Super Bowl Champion Aqib Talib, and Tom Telesco.

Given the history of friendship between the United States and Ireland we are also proud to have established a strong relationship with the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher Wurtz joined our first Super Bowl show in February 2021. We were delighted to be invited to join U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Claire D. Cronin at the official residence in the Phoenix Park for the Fourth of July.

Mixed audience

Our audience is a mix of people who grew up in Ireland, American expats living in Ireland, Irish people living in America, and other international fans of the NFL. Despite coming from different backgrounds, we’ve found that these different groups of fans have one main thing in common: they all share a love for the sport and a desire to stay connected to the NFL.

At Aviva Stadium in Dublin, left to right: Colum Cronin, Brian O’Leary, and Mark Cockerill.

We also see similarities, as many Irish fans do, between the NFL and our national sports of Gaelic football and hurling. Like American football, these sports are physical and high-scoring, and they also have a strong sense of history, tradition, and are deeply rooted in their communities.

We continue to evolve the show to make it stronger and better each year. Kalle Ryan, award-winning writer and spoken word poet, has joined as host and moderator. Khristina Quigley has joined as a panelist.

As we gear up for this year’s Super Bowl, we are excited to bring our viewers all the latest news and analysis. We will be airing special episodes of the show in the days leading up to the big game, featuring interviews with players and coaches, analysis of the matchup, and discussions of the Super Bowl’s significance and history.

We have been excited to see interest and excitement about the NFL grow in Ireland over the past few years. We started the show with the goal of providing a platform for Irish fans of the NFL to stay up to date on all the latest news and analysis. Looking to the future, we are committed to continuing to grow the Irish NFL Show and bring more coverage to Irish audiences.

Maybe one year the Super Bowl will be played in Dublin!

Top row, l to r: Kalle Ryan, Colum Cronin, and Brian O’Leary. Bottom row, l to r: Mark Cockerill and Khristina Quigley.

***

Journalists, historians, authors, researchers, and travelers to Ireland are welcome to offer guest contributions. Submissions are generally from 500 to 1,000 words, with an accompanying photo or graphic. Use the contact form on the Guest Posts page, where you can see previous contributors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *