ELKHART — It’s a trip seven years in the making for Monica Kegerreis.
Back in 2005, Notre Dame announced its 2012 season opener would take place in Dublin, Ireland, against Navy.
Kegerreis, a die-hard Irish fan from Elkhart, started planning her trip to the Emerald Isle shortly after.
“When they played (in Ireland) in (1996), at that point I was a senior in college and it was financially not feasible,” Kegerreis said. “When they announced it seven years ago, my friends and I had ample time to plan financially.”
Kegerreis and the 13 friends going with her will join an estimated 35,000 Americans in Dublin for what will be the largest ever American audience at an overseas sporting event.
Though various Irish and American travel agencies have been selling trip packages — including game tickets, accommodations and site seeing — Kegerreis said she and her friends took the planning in their own hands.
“This is my third trip to Ireland,” she said. “Having prior experience in Ireland made it easier to plan without going through a travel agency.”
She said many of her friends have Irish roots and will spend part of the trip visiting ancestral sites. Kegerreis plans to spend most of her time in Dublin.
“I hope the people are still going to be friendly,” she said. “I’m hoping their patience can handle 33,000 rowdy Americans.”
As for the game itself, the Pinewood Elementary teacher has high expectations for her Irish.
“I don’t want to see a close game,” she said. “Their schedule is really tough this year, so they need to dominate against Navy to build some confidence going into the tougher leg of the season.”
Notre Dame is currently a 17-point favorite over the Midshipmen, but even that isn’t enough for Kegerreis.
“I want it to be over at halftime,” she said. “I didn’t go all the way to Ireland to watch a nail biter.”
Kegerreis plans to leave tonight, Aug. 30, and stay through Sept. 8.
She said missing the home opener against Purdue was a “big discussion” with her group of friends, but they all felt a trip to Ireland was “a valid enough excuse.”
John and Teresa Jamison will also be in the crowd at Aviva Stadium.
The Elkhart couple is celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to Dublin to see their beloved Irish play.
John and Theresa’s daughter works for Anthony Travel, who sent 10,000 fans — including the Jamisons — from both schools overseas.
The Jamsions will take a tour of the Ring of Kerry, Dublin and Galway while on their trip. They left for Ireland on Wednesday.
Like Kegerreis, the Jamisons’ hopes ride on the Irish.
“We should win,” Teresa said. “John says, if we don’t win it will spoil the whole experience.”
Due to the time difference, Notre Dame is set to kick off at 9 a.m. local time on Saturday. The game will be televised on CBS. Live stats will be available on und.com and CBSsports.com.
WHERE TO WATCH
Several local bars are opening their doors early to Irish fans who don’t mind the early kickoff.
Hunters Place, 2703 S. Main St. - Opens at 8 a.m. Serving breakfast, mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Lakeshore Grill, 51330 S.R. 19 - Opens at 8:30 a.m. “Eggs n’ Kegs” party featuring a breakfast buffet and $2 drafts.
Between the Buns, 2041 Cassopolis St. - Opens at 7 a.m. Free biscuits and gravy, Irish drink specials.
Wings, Etc., 105 C.R. 6 - Opens at 8:30 a.m. Possibly serving breakfast.
Bowly’s Crystal Bar, 109 Freight St. - Opens at 8 a.m.
Simeri’s Tavern, 1737 W. Beardsley Ave. - Opens at 8 a.m.
Buffalo Wild Wings, 1829 Reith Blvd. - Opens at 8 a.m. Serving breakfast, Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and tequila sunrises.
Hunters Hideaway, 153 S. Main St. - Opens at 9 a.m.
MrG’s, 708 Lincolnway West - Opens at 8 a.m.
Rivals Sports Den, 11480 McKinley Highway - Opens at 7 a.m.