Video: O’Driscoll testimonial raises thousands for charities

Luminaries from world of sport descended on Dublin venue to pay homage to all-time great

Event at the Convention Centre Dublin raises thousands for charities

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 08:17

The Convention Centre Dublin was bedecked in bright green lights last night as luminaries from the world of sport descended on the Dublin venue to pay homage to an all-time great.

Images of Brian O’Driscoll were projected on to the outside walls of the building, while spotlights danced in front, a scene the man himself described as “definitely surreal” as he arrived for the testimonial dinner shortly after 7 pm.

“I’m obviously massively honoured and it’s a great opportunity to make some money for great causes,” O’Driscoll said. “It’s great to have so many of my friends here so I can’t wait to just take it all in.”

Among the first to arrive was former Irish soccer star Niall Quinn who said O’Driscoll’s legacy would be tied up with the regard in which he is held by so many.

“All his teammates love him and that’s a huge sign that he is someone very special as far as I’m concerned,” he said.“We all know what a brilliant player Brian is and the media love him because he is such a rounded person.

“Nobody could ever begrudge him success and that’s not always the way in the cut-throat world that is professional sport.”

There was certainly no sign of the recession at the event as guests were asked to bid on their own personal iPads at each table during a silent auction. Among the items to be sold were collector’s memorabilia that included O’Driscoll’s last worn Irish, Lions and Leinster jerseys.

€5,000 tables
Some 1,140 people bought tickets for the black-tie testimonial dinner. Tables were priced at either €3,000 or €5,000 depending on position. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the ISPCC and Temple Street children’s hospital.

Guests enjoyed a champagne drinks reception followed by a four-course meal, which included white Kilmore Quay crab for starter and a main course of fillet steak with slow-cooked “18-hour” ox cheek pie.

Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, who was a guest speaker, said you could go “anywhere in the world” and there is “immediate recognition” of the name of Brian O’Driscoll. “He is a wonderful ambassador for Ireland, ” he said. “He’s had a long career – not finished yet – and I am still hoping to see him line out for Dublin in an All-Ireland Football Final some day.”

Guests from the business world included Denis O’Brien, Dermot Desmond and Michael Smurfit. In broadcasting, there was Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny and Ray D’Arcy, among others.

Sports colleagues included Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Malcolm O’Kelly, Victor Costello, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, Ian Madigan, Seán O’Brien, Leo Cullen, Rob and Dave Kearney, Eoin Reddan, Gordon D’Arcy, Jamie Heaslip and Cian Healy.