A UCF-Penn State game in Ireland during the 2014 season is inching closer to reality.

A team of four UCF administrators returned Friday from a four-day trip to Ireland where they met with potential partners for a game against Penn State in Dublin in 2014, two sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations told the Orlando Sentinel.

Three UCF senior associate athletic directors — David Hansen, Zack Lassiter and Brad Stricklin — and assistant athletic director for football operations Marty O’Leary made the trip to “do due diligence, meet people and see opportunities” as well as negotiate with partners in Ireland, one source said.

The trip was one of the key steps the Knights had to take before locking in an agreement to play the game in Ireland, which could be completed in the coming weeks and formally announced in mid-June. UCF is very optimistic after a “very positive visit” to Ireland, one source said.

The deal will not be announced until schools have an opportunity to put together a travel package for fans.

According to both sources, the UCF-Penn State game is likely to be held at Croke Park in Dublin. Officials on the trip met with representatives from both Croke Park and Aviva Stadium. A final decision has not been made on the venue.

Croke Park has a history dating back more than 100 years. Located in north Dublin, the stadium has a capacity of 82,300 and is home of the Gaelic games.

UCF isn't the only side moving toward signing the agreement to play in Ireland.

Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien told Pennlive.com Friday the Nittany Lions are “really close” to finalizing an overseas trip to Ireland.

UCF and Penn State agreed to a home-and-home series beginning this fall with the Knights visiting Happy Valley on Sept. 14. The game is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. and will air on the Big Ten Network.

At a fan event earlier this month, UCF coach George O’Leary discussed the potential 2014 matchup with his protégé, O’Brien, in Ireland.

At a fan event earlier this month, UCF coach George O’Leary discussed the potential 2014 matchup with his protégé, O’Brien, in Ireland.

"There's talks right now, heavy talks about that game," O'Leary said. "I hope it happens. It'd be a great experience for our program, great experience for the university and a great experience for the fan base. It should be great game.  . . . There are heavy discussions for that game, but nothing released yet. Hopefully it happens and we can open the 2014 season there."

The trip to Ireland would be a home game for UCF, which is scheduled for seven home games next season. As such, the television rights would be held by the American Athletic Conference. The split of ticket sales is still being negotiated, a source said.

Notre Dame defeated Navy, 50-10, in Aviva Stadium in 2012 in front of an announced crowd of 48,820 fans. A UCF source said that crowd was heavily American for that game, but that there will be a stronger marketing push in Dublin for the 2014 opener.

Those within the UCF football program believe the exposure would be hugely beneficial for the football program, which is preparing for its first season in the new American Athletic Conference this fall.

ptenorio@tribune.com