GPA fundraiser sells out

This evening’s GPA fundraiser in New York, the Irish-American Heritage awards dinner, is sold out.

The event, which takes place in the Marriott Marquis hotel close to Times Square, will honour Donald R Keough, chairman of the Board of Allen and Company Inc and former president of The Coca-Cola Company.

Former Irish Examiner journalist Declan Kelly’s global consulting firm, Teneo Holdings, is sponsoring the night, which will be attended by all the travelling 2011 and 2012 All Star footballers. It had been speculated the GPA would be happy to break even on this inaugural gala. However, Portroe man Kelly, one of the leading Irish-American businessmen as chief executive of Teneo and brother of current Labour TD Alan, says they stand to make a tidy return on it.

“The event will definitely make a profit,” said Kelly. “It’s going to generate funding for the GPA. It’ll be successful from that standpoint.

Kelly has long been friends with GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell and played an instrumental role in opening up new fundraising avenues for the players body across the Atlantic.

“We’ve been trying to help put together some foundation for the organisation in the US for a few years.

“Several months ago, we decided to take the next step, which was to put together the actual event.

“It’s turned out to be a great success. I think it’s sold out and the honouree is Donald Keough who is a great friend of mine. Since I’ve come to America, he’s been a great mentor and friend to me, a legendary person. It’s going to be a great night.”

Kelly explained the games of hurling and football and what top level players contribute to the GAA will be articulated to an influential gathering this evening.

“I think it’s an opportunity to actually introduce a whole new audience to Gaelic games and what it means but also to gain an understanding of how much of a sacrifice players actually make when they provide this kind of entertainment.

“Many of the people who will be there won’t have been exposed to Gaelic games before, so I think that’s even more exciting and interesting because that’s the real objective – to build a base among those who currently don’t know a lot about the games.

“They are a new audience as opposed to a captive one and our goal is to try and build this.”

Kelly is delighted US industry giant Keough, a former advisor to several Taoisigh, is being honoured this evening.

“He is a very proud Irishman. His family is from Wexford and he has been to Wexford many, many times.

“He has been a primary investor in Ireland starting in 1973 when the Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland, which was then known as the John Daly Company, was bought and acquired.”

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