Kerry GAA reject Spillane's Cooper testimonial claim

Paul Brennan

Kerry GAA has refuted Pat Spillane's claim that they have been told by Croke Park officials that they are not to accept any donation arising from Colm Cooper's testimonial dinner.

Writing in his Sunday World column last weekend, Spillane said he was "reliably informed" that the Kerry County Committee and Cooper's Dr Crokes club has been instructed by the GAA's national authorities "not to accept any money" from Cooper's recent €500 a seat testimonial dinner, which drew 500 to the black-tie event in Dublin recently.

However, Kerry GAA Secretary Peter Twiss has said Spillane is "incorrect" in his claim, and neither Kerry GAA nor the Dr Crokes club have had any communication from Croke Park officials regarding Cooper's testimonial.

"Pat's article is very incorrect. I don't know where he got that from but it's completely incorrect as far as the Kerry County Board is concerned," Mr Twiss told The Kerryman . "We've got no directive from anyone regarding any possible donation from Colm Cooper, nor would I expect we would."

Cooper had stated on The Late Late Show a few weeks ago in advance of the testimonial dinner that Kerry GAA and Dr Crokes would benefit financially from the event, as well as two named charities.

"Other than Colm saying what he said on The Late Late (Show) we've had no contact with him about anything," Mr Twiss added. "We'll leave it take its course and let it play itself out. From our point of view Colm Cooper has been one of our greatest ever footballers and after that we wouldn't want to make any public pronouncement about anything else beyond that."

A source close to the Dr Crokes club also suggested that they had no directive or any contact from the GAA authorities in relation to Cooper's testimonial.

Writing in the Sunday World, Spillane - who has been critical of Cooper benefiting financially from the testimonial dinner - said: "I am reliably informed, however, that neither the Kerry GAA Board nor Dr Crokes GAA clubs will benefit financially from the gig. They have been instructed by the powers that be not to accept any money from it. On the back of this development I assume the organising committee of the testimonial dinner will issue a new statement outlining how the proceeds will be distributed.

"Last Sunday I met several County Board officials, dozens of club officers and other die-hard GAA people. Not a single one of them was in favour of Gooch's testimonial dinner...Kerry GAA officials are privately seething over it. The county's GAA Centre of Excellence is now nearing completion - it will have eventually cost €7 million and there is still a shortfall of almost €3m. The issue for the County Board is that Gooch's gig was tapping into the people and companies that they would have been looking at to provide finance for the centre."