Colm Cooper ‘quite entitled’ to get what he can out of life

The former chair of the Kerry County Board has backed Colm Cooper’s claim that Joe Brolly privately apologised for publicly criticising the Gooch’s upcoming testimonial dinner, which he described as “cheap and self- serving”, writes Catherine Shanahan.

Colm Cooper made the claim on the Late Late Show on Friday night. Patrick O’Sullivan then sent a tweet saying: “It’s a pity joe brolly can’t tell the truth. I saw the text joe sent colm. Classy guy joe he can’t tell the truth.”

When contacted by the Irish Examiner yesterday, Mr O’Sullivan said he had been “asked to say no more”.

He said Cooper was “quite entitled” to get what he could out of life. Cooper, known as “The Gooch” is holder of five All-Ireland senior medals with Kerry, eight All-Star awards and an All-Ireland senior club medal with his club, Dr Crokes.

“I didn’t hear anyone complaining when he gave up 15 years of his life,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

The decision to hold a testimonial dinner for Cooper, the first ever for a GAA player, has divided public opinion.

A spokesperson for the GAA said they “did not agree” with Cooper holding a testimonial but that he “didn’t need our imprimatur” as legal advice indicated it did not breach the organisation’s amateur status.

He said they had “no reason to fear a breakout of these type of testimonials.”

Colm Cooper ‘quite entitled’ to get what he can out of life

Brolly, a former All-Star and All-Ireland medal winner with Derry, wrote in a recent newspaper column that ‘it’s a great pity Colm has done this [agreed to a testimonial]”.

“As an icon of Irish sport, he could have set an example of altruism, but instead has chosen to enrich himself. What could and should have been a night the GAA could have taken great pride in, has instead become something cheap and self-serving,” Brolly wrote.

However, on the Late Late Show, Cooper said Brolly had since ‘changed his tune’.

“Joe actually sent me a text this week to say sorry about all the fuss,” he said. “[He said] he wishes there wasn’t the reaction that there was and that it’s gone overboard. And he’s apologising for it. So, he’s obviously changed his tune since. And he fully respects that I’m entitled to have a testimonial night if I want.

“There’s players doing dinner dances and speaking after events. There’s brand ambassadors, there’s players doing launches all the time. So, unfortunately for the GAA, there are players earning money. So, if that’s the argument, I don’t really get it.”

However, Brolly subsequently denied apologising via Twitter.

“I didn’t apologise to Colm for anything I said,” he tweeted. “I stand by every word. I said I didn’t intend him to be demonised as a result. I said face to face to Colm he was wrong. I stand by that absolutely.”

Patrick O’Sullivan then rowed in saying he had seen Brolly’s text to Cooper and that he had apologised. Brolly was also challenged on Twitter in relation to any earnings he had made on foot of his association with the GAA. He was asked “Do you attend all your Gaa events/panels for free Joe, Or do you charge an appearance fee based on your profile? Is this not the same?

Brolly replied: “Have never charged. And do around 30-40 per year between talks, dinners, training sessions. Check it out.”

Cooper’s testimonial, scheduled to take place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge on October 27, with a table of 10 priced at €5,000, is expected to raise roughly €250,000.

Prior to his Friday night’s television appearance, Cooper had said some of the money raised would go to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin and Kerry Cancer Support Group.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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