Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper has staunchly defended the decision to have a testimonial, one that has caused controversy in GAA circles, writes Peter McNamara.
And Cooper has also revealed both Kerry GAA and his club, Dr Crokes, will also now benefit from the testimonial financially.
Speaking on the Late Late Show, Cooper, an Irish Examiner Columnist, revealed Joe Brolly sent him a text apologising for the fuel the Derryman added to the fire by condemning the testimonial move, saying Gooch chose to “enrich himself” by being “self-serving”.
“Sure we all know that Joe Brolly is the greatest player ever, so how could we challenge him on that?” Cooper said, tongue-in-cheek.
“On a serious note, Joe actually sent me a text this week to say ‘Sorry about all the fuss. I wish there wasn’t a reaction that there was. It’s gone overboard. And I apologise’.
“So he’s obviously changed his tune and now fully respects that I am entitled to have a testimonial night if I want.
“There’s players doing dinner dances, speaking after events, being brand ambassadors, there’s players doing launches. Unfortunately for the GAA, there are players earning money. So if that’s the argument, I don’t really get it.
“It’s going to be a great night with 450 people confirmed to be going, some coming from the UK and America.
“It’s going to be a successful night and could be the first of many. Who knows, this could be a new trend.”
Cooper explained the idea had its origins no less than three years ago.
“Basically, the idea came up, maybe, three years ago. A group of friends came to me with the idea, approaching me to know if I would like to be the first GAA person to have a testimonial.
“At the time I said I wasn’t interested because I was still playing with Kerry and could see myself still playing in three or four years after that.
“When I decided to retire in April it came up again in May, would we do it, why would we do it.
“In the meantime, I had been to Brian O’Driscoll’s testimonial, I was at Ronan O’Gara’s in Cork and I just thought they were amazing nights, so well done, celebrations of Irish sport more than anything else and you were able to give money to so many people, raising vital funds.
“So I said: Why shouldn’t a GAA player be able to do that, because GAA players are admired in this country as much as rugby players, if not more so?
“And I said to myself, why not a GAA player?”
The Gooch revealed both Kerry GAA and Dr Crokes, will benefit financially, though did not specify percentages.
“I have been amazed by the response,” he stated. “There are two charities involved. There’s the Kerry Cancer Support based in Tralee where they bring cancer patients to Cork and also there is Crumlin Children’s Hospital, in one section.
“I’m delighted to say tonight, though, that Kerry GAA and Dr Crokes will also get proceeds from the night.
“And it was always my intention to do that.”