Illustration by Bob AulIrish eyes have done little smiling this fall, as Notre Dame's gridiron gang suffers through another mediocre season and supposed savior Tyrone Willingham is proving to be more Gerry Faust than Ara Parsegian. Even worse, the cursed USC Trojans now dominate the yearly battle between the schools; Tailback U humiliated the Golden Domers last year with a 44-13 pummeling at the Los Angeles Coliseum. With another Top 10 SoCal squad charging into Rockne Stadium this year, Notre Dame alums will have to find solace at Irish pubs after their team's almost-certain loss.
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CORNER OFFICE, 580 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 979-9922.Not strictly an Irish tavern, this is the boisterous bar where members of the Notre Dame Club of Orange County (www.ndcoc.com) chomp on buttery potato skins ($6.95) every Saturday between yelling at another wobbly Carlyle Holiday incompletion. O'MALLEY'S, 140 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 430-0631.Recent studies show that bulky meals comfort the downtrodden, so expect O'Malley's to do brisk business feeding the sons and daughters of Eire. Their shepherd pie steaming beneath tasty mashed potatoes ($?) will dull the pain of another missed BCS bowl game. MULDOON'S, 202 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-4110.The county's finest fish and chips–five pieces of golden-battered fresh red snapper piled atop skin-on shoestring fries made from real potatoes–are rather pricey at $13.95. But this is chump change for people accustomed to tuition bills in the neighborhood of $30,000 per year. MOLLY BLOOM'S IRISH BAR AND RESTAURANT, 2391 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 218-0120. Molly Bloom's is as great an Irish pub as you'll find outside Ireland: low lighting, Guinness posters and bricks. The bar and restaurant are separate, but both thankfully serve bangers, beans and mash ($9.95), a gooey, tasty mush of sausages, baked beans and mashed potatoes. SILKY SULLIVAN'S, 10201 Slater Ave., Fountain Valley (714) 963-2718. Don't be misled by Sullivan's Irish Sundae ($6.95). The name says ice cream, but the waitress says baked potato stuffed with chunks of prime rib and mushrooms and topped with au jus, melted cheese and sour cream. Your cardiologist? He's watching the game. –Gustavo Arellano