Trophy jpg

A trophy to, well, tackle for

Pictured at the presentation of the Keough-Naughton Trophy at Boston College were (l-r) Stephen Kavanagh, CEO Aer Lingus, Brad Bates, Boston College Director of Athletics, and Neil Naughton, chairman of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic steering committee.

By Ray O’Hanlon

It promises to be one of the sporting highlights in Ireland next year.

And if the trophy at stake is anything to go by it will be a hard fought battle to boot.

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Boston College and Georgia Tech will compete for the inaugural “Keough-Naughton” Trophy in next year’s Aer Lingus College Football Classic, to be held in September at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The trophy, a new perpetual one awarded to the winners of the games played in Dublin, was unveiled in the U.S. recently at both Boston College and Georgia Tech games. Boston College and Georgia Tech will compete for the inaugural “Keough-Naughton” Trophy in next September’s Aer Lingus College Football Classic in the Aviva Stadium.

The impressive trophy, made by Waterford Crystal, got the seal of approval on a tour that took in Boston College’s home game against Florida State and Notre Dame’s home game against Georgia Tech College in South Bend, Indiana.

Both the Keough and Naughton families, who have sponsored the trophy, were on-hand to give the final seal of approval.

The trophy, as part of a tour of the U.S., will stay in Notre Dame until October 10 where it will be on display for the Notre Dame Ireland Council Meeting.

It will then travel to Atlanta, Georgia for a number of engagements in November, the main one being the Georgia Tech versus Virginia Tech game on November 12 at the Bobby Dudd Stadium.

The trophy was designed by Matt Kehoe, Head of Design at Waterford Crystal and hand crafted at the company’s facility in Waterford.

The trophy is an American Football mounted on three individual sculpted pillars of crystal, resting on a base and plinth.

Kehoe’s concept for the trophy was a ball in flight and the pillars represent the players’ arms catching the ball.

The trophy is but the latest Waterford piece to be offered as a prize for a major sporting event.

Neil Naughton, chairman of the steering group created to maximize the business opportunity between Ireland and the United States around future College Football games in Dublin, was joined by Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh, and Boston College Athletic Director, Brad Bates at the unveiling ceremony in Boston College.

Both Fergal and Neil Naughton then met with Mickie Keough, wife of the late Don Keough, in South Bend after Georgia Tech had played Notre Dame.

“Don Keough was a charismatic leader, often described as the best president America never had,” said Neil Naughton.

“As leader of Coca Cola, an iconic global brand, Don was a vigorous and visionary presence in American business for over half a century. He was also a dynamic presence in Irish America, where he supported Irish business, education and culture in multiple ways. Don brought wise counsel, good humor, and vigor to strengthening the relationship between Ireland and America,” Naughton added.

And he continued: “One of the legacies that Don was most proud of was the Irish Studies program that he founded in Dublin, which has brought thousands of young Americans to Ireland.

“Because he believed strongly that the Irish-American partnership only worked well if it was equally supported on both sides of the Atlantic, he invited my father to co-chair this Irish Studies initiative. The Keough and the Naughton families have worked closely together in the last two decades to foster a strong link between Ireland and America.

“One ambition that the families share is to bring major American College football games to Dublin every two years, where elite universities will bring the spectacle and the drama of their sport to Irish turf.

“These games offer huge publicity potential, practical economic benefits, and a genuine expression of the close ties between our two countries. We hope to add an exciting international chapter to the rich narrative of American College Football, which brings famous franchises like Boston College, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Navy to Dublin.”