College Football Trophy Unveiled

Pictured at the presentation of the Keough-Naughton Trophy at Boston College were: Neil and Fergal Naughton with Mickie Keough, widow of the late Don Keough.

By Adam Farley, Deputy Editor
December / January 2016

A new trophy has been added to the roster of college football trophies, only this one is different from the bowl game and rivalry cup trophies most Americans are familiar with, because this one will solely be awarded in Dublin.

The Keough-Naughton trophy bears the names of two powerhouses of Irish America – Don Keough, former head of Coca-Cola and the first inductee into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2010, and Martin Naughton, whose support fostered Irish studies programs in the U.S. It will be the perpetual prize for the annual Aer Lingus College Football, a regular-season game played by American college teams at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium each September. The inaugural trophy, made by Waterford Crystal, was unveiled in the U.S. at both Boston College and Georgia Tech’s respective games in September. Boston College and Georgia Tech will compete for the inaugural Keough-Naughton Trophy in next September’s Dublin game.

Appropriately, the Georgia Tech unveiling took place at the University of Notre Dame, where the Yellow Jackets were the visiting team in South Bend, IN in September. Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies was the first academic institution of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to the scholarly study of Irish language, literature, and history, and both the Keough and Naughton families were on-hand to give the final seal of approval for the trophy.

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, widow 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,” Neil Naughton said at the Notre Dame / Georgia Tech unveiling.

“He was 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,” he said.

The Keough-Naughton trophy was designed by Matt Kehoe, head of Design at House of Waterford Crystal, where the trophy was hand-crafted at the company’s Waterford factory. Featuring a football mounted on three individual crystal pillars, Kehoe’s concept for the trophy was a ball in flight, and the pillars represent the players’ arms catching the ball.

“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,” Naughton continued.

“These games offer huge publicity potential, practical economic benefits, and a genuine expression of the close ties between our two countries.” ♦


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