COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio State Buckeyes are just over 24 hours away from kicking off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
While many are rooting for a Buckeye win – that can’t be said for everyone – like the Notre Dame fan club of Columbus.
For the last seven years, they’ve called Dempsey’s in downtown Columbus home.
Founder Mark Hissom tells me what started out as five or 10 people, has turned into the bar being filled with Fighting Irish fans each week.
“One day we were just like, yeah, we got to find other Notre Dame fans,” Hissom said. “This is kind of getting, you know, kind of getting old.”
He started a Facebook group in 2014.
Two years later, they met Mark Dempsey, founder of Dempsey’s, who agreed for them to have a watch party.
“It was a perfect fit,” Hissom said.
Mark Dempsey passed on in 2020, but when his son Conor Dempsey took over, they never missed a beat.
“It made sense, Irish bar, Notre Dame Fighting Irish,” Dempsey said. “So they kind of made a natural partnership.”
Now in 2023, this is the place to be for Fighting Irish fans in Columbus.
“If you come to Columbus to say we’re going to watch the game, somebody’s going to tell you, go to Dempsey’s,” Hissom said.
The bar sees upwards of 150 people depending on the week.
“So last year, the Ohio State Notre Dame game, it was wild, it was like a St. Patrick’s day in here,” Dempsey said. “I just appreciate the passion and the sense of community. So I know we’re in Columbus, we’re in Ohio State territory, but it’s really nice to have a safe haven for them and for them to show up. It means a lot to me.”
As tomorrow’s game gets closer, the Irish fans know what’s at stake.
“Notre Dame has not beat Ohio State since 1936, so I’ve never seen them win against Ohio State in my lifetime,” Hissom said. “I’m super excited. I mean, nervous. I feel like a kid on christmas.”
Hissom said they are expecting a large turnout for tomorrow’s game. He’s predicting a win for the Fighting Irish – and thinks this is the year they’ll get a win against Ohio State.
Only time will tell.