American football is not a big sport in Ireland, but its popularity is growing. While ranked substantially behind Gaelic football, hurling, rugby and quite a few others when it comes to local repute, the Super Bowl – which runs into the early hours of the morning local time – has a broad awareness among sports fans.
American football, in general, has a cult following of people who regularly spend their late weekend evenings keeping up with an assortment of teams. Ireland even has its own league, dating back to 1984. It currently consists of a north and south division and culminates in the annual Shamrock Bowl in August.
When it comes to actually finding somewhere to watch the Super Bowl, it can harder than you’d think. Most pubs don’t have a licence to stay open late enough to show the entire match and so often resort to ‘lock-ins’, a legal loophole in Ireland allowing the pub to lock its doors, allowing nobody to enter, but continue serving those already inside. Most pubs won’t admit to running these up front, though, and those that do are usually taking bookings for a while ahead, with football fans looking early to find somewhere to bed down and watch the big game with a pint or five.
There are a few reliable places in Dublin, but we’d suggest you get in touch about getting in the door before heading down (or at the very least, go very early). They’re popular. Here are our top spots to watch and celebrate the Super Bowl:
The Dublin Rebels Superbowl Party
Ireland’s most successful American football club are also the current holders of the Shamrock Bowl, and probably the most knowledgeable group of (largely) locals you could hope to watch the game with. They’ve hired the Odeon Bar on Harcourt Street for their annual bash. It features massive screens, snacks, cheerleaders, an early-evening tailgate party, a live DJ and a sponsorship deal with a local radio station. They even make an exception to the general Irish view on American beer by serving it for the day. It’s the… erm… Super Bowl of Irish Super Bowl parties. Get the details (and tickets, which you’ll need to buy in advance) here.
The Square Ball
The Square Ball is a great pub generally with craft beer, a massive quantity of board games, friendly regulars, a lively buzz and plenty of sport. The Super Bowl party is a hidden gem; a night where the entire place is Americanised, with chicken wings served from a hatch out the back, special beer on tap, modest gambling on the outcome of the game, and more NFL jerseys than you’d expect to find in the whole of Ireland. They seem to draw a raucous crowd, but one that genuinely cares about the outcome.
The Square Ball, 45 Hogan Pl, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353 1 662 4473
Woolshed Baa and Grill
What’s the Australian-themed Woolshed Baa and Grill got to do with the American football finale? We’ve no idea either, but it’s become a popular spot to watch the game nonetheless and has all the food and beer accompaniments you could hope for. With a pre-game party, DJ, plenty of deals on drinks and cheerleaders, they’ve gone all out. A sizeable pub close to private apartments, they’re likely to stop serving booze before the end of the game due to late-night licensing, so stock up early! (But they will stay open until it’s all over.)
Buskers On The Ball
Temple Bar isn’t exactly beloved of locals, but if you’re looking to find a large crowd of Americans to watch the game with, this new-ish and fast-growing sports bar, Buskers On The Ball, in the tourist district is your best bet. Their free-in party will be showing on what they claim is Dublin’s largest screen (it is basically a wall), with games of Madden on offer as a side draw, a snack menu, and lots and lots of beer. While it’s free, you’re still advised to reserve a spot ahead of time.
Buskers On The Ball, Fleet St, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1 612 9241
Copper Face Jacks
Ask any Dubliner about Copper Face Jacks and watch the smirk appear on their faces. This place is your classic sleazy nightclub, famous for obvious music, people looking to couple up, sticky floors and late-night shenanigans. It also has a sporting link as a notorious party spot for Gaelic Athletics title winners. So, why not make the most of it for the Super Bowl? Past events have been consistently solid with giveaways and an extra emphasis on the half-time show. Lots of fun, in short. (At the time of writing, they haven’t officially confirmed the Super Bowl party for this year. It’s become iconic, so we’re confident it’ll happen.)