A veritable who’s who of rugby, the wider sporting arena, society figures, and even a hint of Hollywood stardust turned out to pay homage to Ireland’s greatest rugby player at the Convention Centre in Dublin last night.
There was a philanthropic feel to the occasion too, as Brian O’Driscoll was donating all the considerable proceeds of his testimonial dinner to the ISPCC and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.
But really, this was about celebrating a remarkable 15 years with Leinster, Ireland, and the Lions, all of which the great man captained, and they turned out in their droves to honour the hands of BOD, which after this season, will no longer be seen on a rugby pitch in a professional capacity.
More than 1,140 people enjoyed a champagne drinks reception, four-course meal, and entertainment provided by Imelda May, Ryan Sheridan, and Tom Odell to hail one of Ireland’s greatest sporting icons.
The green carpet was no doubt a nod to O’Driscoll’s illustrious career in an Irish jersey, but given his Leinster loyalties, the Munster red might not have gone down too well in the capital city on this occasion.
O’Driscoll was joined by wife Amy Huberman, while long-time colleagues Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, and the Kearney brothers, Rob and Dave were also in attendance.
Kerry footballer Colm Cooper and ex-Irish soccer international Niall Quinn were others to accept invitations, as was actor Liam Cunningham. Pat Kenny, Ray D’Arcy, and Gay Byrne kept the entertainment industry well represented.
Communicorp boss Denis O’Brien and MCD chief Dermot Desmond headed the event’s organising committee and they donned the glad rags along with other business gladiators such as Arthur Ryan (Penneys), Paul Kelly (Brown Thomas), and Bernie Gallagher (Wesbury Group).
As for the man himself, he was very relaxed ahead of the expected grilling from former Ireland and Lions team-mate Keith Wood.
“I’m massively honoured to have a testimonial dinner and hopefully we’ll make a lot of money for two great causes. It’s a special night and I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of great friends. A lot of people put a lot of great work into it and I’m going to take it all in.”
As for what the future might hold?
“I want to be able to enjoy the last seven or eight months of my career but I’ve a few things in mind.”
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