Green light for Gooch’s corporate-sponsored testimonial dinner

Ex-Kerry star Cooper to be centre stage at event for 500 guests in Dublin hotel

The GAA have "no issue" with Colm Cooper being the first amateur player who could earn a six-figure sum from a corporate-sponsored testimonial dinner.

"The first person I met about it was [GAA director general] Páraic Duffy," said the retired Kerry footballer. "We explained what we are doing and he had no issue with it. I met him twice.

“You’re right, it hasn’t been done before for anyone with amateur status. Whether it’s breaking new ground or opening the door for this to happen more, I’m not quite sure. Everybody is watching to see what happens with this, is it a success. Is there a future to this sort of thing? It appears that we’ll have 500 people there on the night.

“The GAA don’t have an issue with it,” Cooper repeated. “Hopefully it will be fairly successful.”


Two charities – Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin and Kerry Cancer Support Group – will also benefit from the dinner to be held at a Dublin hotel on October 27th with event organiser Mick Culhane stating the amount going to the charities will be "significant and split equally" but at Cooper's "discretion".

“Because it’s a first, we don’t know what we’re going to raise,” Cooper continued. “We’re hoping to have an auction on the night as well. Give some GAA and sports memorabilia away . . . We’ve no idea what we’ll raise. Hopefully they’ll benefit in some small way.”

Some idea can be calculated as €250,000 has been secured by selling fifty ten-person tables at €5,000 each.

The sponsor’s figure would also be known to Cooper by now.

“It’s hitting the Dublin market and Dublin prices. People have been very generous, all positives so far. The aim of the night wasn’t to raise funds for Colm Cooper albeit that people might have different views on that,” Cooper added.

“We wanted to have a GAA celebration because we’ve seen all these sporting stars [from professional rugby and soccer] in Ireland have these nights. We are saying: ‘Well, our GAA people are very much to the forefront of every community so why shouldn’t we be doing if for our own people?’

“And obviously the charities were very much to the fore of it as well.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate in my career to get a lot of support from different people. This is a way of giving back because I am conscious, I am probably old news already, but I will certainly be old news by 2018. This is probably me signing off. That’s basically the reasons behind it.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent