THE Gaelic Players Association (GPA) look set for a significant windfall next week as it hosts one of its biggest events in its 13-year history in New York.
The first ever Ireland-US Gaelic Heritage Awards and Dinner Gala will honour Donald R Keough, the chairman of the board of Allen and Company Incorporated, and formerly president of Coca-Cola.
Keough's contribution to bringing foreign direct investment to Ireland, his involvement with the University of Notre Dame and the establishment of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies have ensured he will be the first recipient of the award.
The gala dinner, which will take place next Thursday in the Marriott Marquis just off Times Square, is a major departure for the GPA and will net significant revenue. With up to 500 guests expected to attend, the association could reap well in excess of €100,000.
It's being staged in conjunction with the GAA/GPA All Stars tour to the city.
The chairman of the event is Tipperary-born Declan Kelly, the current chief executive officer of Teneo Holdings, who has held a number of prominent business positions since moving to the US a decade ago. He was appointed US economic envoy to Northern Ireland in September 2009 by secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Formerly a PR consultant in Dublin, he established a friendship with GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell in the embryonic days of the players' body and has provided advice on an ongoing basis. His company, Teneo, are the main sponsors of the event.
The GPA have established a North American advisory board and are hoping to bed down stronger roots in the US.
"As much as this is a fundraising event, it is also a chance to increase awareness of the games and the work we do. We've been conscious not to cut across the GAA locally in New York so we're trying to open up new avenues of support," said GPA head of communications Sean Potts.
The 2011 and 2012 All Star teams will attend.