The Westmeath Minotaurs are set to face the Philadelphia Blue Flame Football Team on March 19th at Athlone GFC as part of local St Patrick Day festivities. The matchup was put together by Minotaurs coach and Philly native Bill Dougherty & will serve to mark the Minotaurs 10th anniversary while raising funds for charity. Featuring first responders from the city’s Police and Fire Departments, many of the Blue Flame have previously played at the collegiate level and will undoubtedly provide a tough test for the Irish side. And while we can expect some hard hits on the field, it’ll be all brotherly love off it as these two teams come together to honor the late Sgt. Pat McDonald.
This will in fact be the Blue Flame’s second trip across the pond. The Philly outfit traveled to Ireland back in 2009 and played against the University of Limerick Vikings. The purpose of that trip was also in memory of their fallen comrade, Patrick McDonald. McDonald was the cousin of Bill Dougherty and was tragically killed in the line of duty in 2008. “I was in the Army serving in Louisiana at the time and from afar I thought that must have been a great experience for the Blueflame and UL. From all accounts they had a great time in Ireland.” Bill tells us. “Fast forward to 2021. I’m thinking about something special to commemorate the anniversary and provide a challenge to the team. I recall the Blueflame’s original trip to Ireland and decide to ask them if they want to come over again. While home in Philadelphia, I met with Joe Hansbury, the president of the Blueflame, and he immediately agreed to try and put this game on. We decide the game will honour Officer Patrick McDonald, raise money for charity, and hopefully provide both teams with a great experience. It’s also the Blueflame’s 20th Anniversary season. So it all just seemed to make a lot of sense to put the effort into getting the game organised.”
Irish teams have a long history of hosting visiting international sides, from college to semi pro. A strong showing from both sides on the gridiron and a positive response from the American football community in Ireland will go a long way to promoting the game here.
For more details on the game, head over to either team’s social media!