Friday 18 October 2019

Colm Cooper takes aim at Joe Brolly as he defends €250k testimonial dinner

Colm Cooper has responded to criticism from Joe Brolly
Colm Cooper has responded to criticism from Joe Brolly Newsdesk Newsdesk

Colm 'Gooch' Cooper has defended his right to become the first GAA player to have a testimonial dinner.

The testimonial dinner will take place on October 27 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge with a table of 10 priced at €5,000 and 50 tables expected to be filled, raising up to €250,000.

Two charities will benefit from a proportion of the proceeds: the Kerry Cancer Support Group and Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin as well as Kerry GAA and Cooper's club Dr Crokes.

A number of GAA commentators have criticised the holding of such an event, even though GAA officials have said they have no issue with the event, even though Cooper is the first amateur player to become involved in this kind of venture.

Among those unhappy with the move is 1993 All-Ireland winner and Sunday Independent columnist.

"It is a great pity Colm has done this. The point of the GAA is supposed to be volunteerism and community activism. The question is supposed to be, 'What can I do?', not 'What can I get out of it?'," he wrote recently.

"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."

Cooper revealed to Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show tonight that friends had approached him three years ago with the idea of a testimonial and he wasn't interested but he was swayed after attending similar events for Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara.

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Reacting to Brolly's criticism, Cooper said: "We all know that Joe Brolly is the greatest player ever so how could we challenge him on that?.

"On a serious note, Joe actually sent me a text this week to say sorry about all the fuss and he wishes there wasn't the reaction that there was and that it's gone overboard and he's apologising for it.

"He's obviously changed his tune and he fully respects that I'm fully entitled to have a testimonial night if I want.

"There's players, dinner dances, speaking after events, there are brand ambassadors, there are players doing launches all the time. Unfortunately for the GAA, there are players earning money so if that's the argument I don't really get it.

"It's going to be a great night. We have over 450 people confirmed. There are people coming from America and the UK. It's going to be a successful night and it could be the first of many. Who knows, this could be a new trend.

"Whether you're for or against it, it's going to be a celebration of sport. I'm delighted with my career and I'm honoured to be having it."

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