Colm Cooper’s first port of call when considering the offer of a testimonial evening in his honour was the GAA’s Director General, Páraic Duffy.
He wanted to check that the trailblazing concept met with the approval of the association. The black tie event will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge on Friday, October 27.
The aim is to attract 500 people from across the sporting, political, and business worlds at a cost of €5,000 for a table of 10.
That amounts to a total of €250,000 with an unspecified portion of the proceeds going to two nominated charities: The Kerry Cancer Support Group and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital.
There will also be sports memorabilia auctioned on the night.
“The first person I met about it was Páraic and I said, ‘look, this is what we’re planning to do and I understand it hasn’t been done for a GAA player before.’ We explained to Páraic what we’re doing and he had no issue with it whatsoever.
“I met him twice. You’re right though, it hasn’t been done for anyone of amateur status. My first question to Mick (Culhane, the organiser) was, ‘Do you really think we’ll get 500 people to come to this?’ Particularly in Dublin for a Kerry person.”
Such events are a long-established tradition in professional sports.
Cooper has attended similar in honour of Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara in the past but the idea of one for the ‘Gooch’ was first mentioned to him three or four years ago.
GAA players receive mileage allowances and other benefits in kind. Some also profit from sponsorship deals but the concept of an amateur player benefiting financially from an event of this nature is new ground and Cooper feels it is territory they are entitled to enter.
“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?’
“So that’s where it’s kind of breaking ground. 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.”
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