South Bend: Notre Dame are expecting an incredible 20,000 Fighting Irish fans to come to Dublin in September next year Notre Dame officials say.

It will be the largest ever 'invasion' by US sports fans of Ireland.

The last time Notre Dame played in Ireland in 1995 only 4,000 or so fans traveled.

The Fighting Irish will play Navy on September 1st at the Aviva stadium in Dublin, in their first game of the 2012 season.

It is billed as the "Emerald Isle Classic."

The buzz around South Bend about the game has already begun.

Dolly Duffy, Executive Director of the Notre Dame alumni confirmed to me that the numbers are expected to break all expectations.

"There has been an incredible reaction to the Dublin game," she told me."We have been overwhelmed by the interest in traveling to Ireland."

Micheal Seamon, Associate Vice President also confirmed the number and stated that the weekend in Dublin is shaping up to be a spectacular occasion.

Some Notre Dame officials believe the final total could be 25,000, an amazing number.

On Saturday $400,000 was pledged from Irish supporters to bring the Fighting Irish marching band to Dublin as part of the celebration.

A massive concert and pep rally will take place at the O2 arena in the Dublin docklands the night before the game.

Top Irish acts have already been signed up.

There will also be a special Notre Dame mass which is expected to pack Dublin's main cathedral to the rafters

The day of the game will be spectacular with the trendy Temple bar area turned into a massive Notre Dame tailgate party.

The marching band will march through Dublin's Grafton Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, and will surely be a sight to behold.

The game is being played the same weekend as the All Ireland hurling final, Ireland's second biggest sporting weekend meaning that Dublin will be chock a block with both Irish and hurling fans.

Notre Dame's Irish campus at O'Connell House in Merrion Square will also feature prominently with a major conference on America and the 1916 Rising set for the week of the game.

All in all it is easy to get excited by the game which Notre Dame is billing as 'The Fighting Irish are coming home."

It will be an incredible bonanza for Ireland in terms of tourism in particular.

I predict there will not be a hotel room to be had from Cork to Dublin.

Roll on September 2012!