'I think it’s an extremely disappointing development' - Joe Brolly takes issue with Colm Cooper's testimonial dinner
Sunday Independent columnist Joe Brolly has called Colm Cooper's upcoming testimonial dinner next month 'an extremely disappointing development' for the GAA.
Cooper will hold a testimonial dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge on 27 October with the hope of drawing a crowd of 500 people on the night.
Brolly, an outspoken critic of the GAA's increasing move towards commercialism, took umbrage with Cooper's decision to host the event and said that the GAA is no longer about ‘well, what can I do for you'.
Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday Sport programme, he said: "It’s a very disappointing development.
"The ideal is gaining traction through all the developments over the last 10 years that the GAA is no longer, ‘well, what can I do for you.’
"It’s no longer about selflessness and volunteerism and the community.
"But the idea of taking from the GAA and ‘what’s in it for me?'
"It’s a philosophical thing and some people will say that that’s fine, let him at it. And obviously there are plenty of people prepared to go to the event.
"A GAA footballer of that status will already have been making a considerable amount of money from endorsements, which is fine and there’s no problem.
"He’ll be in a very privileged position compared to the vast majority of the GAA volunteers.
"But I think it’s something that he’ll live to regret, I’ve said as much to him and I think it’s an extremely disappointing development."
Cooper did highlight that while the night would be a celebration for Irish sporting achievements, it was also an opportunity to give back to the Kerry Cancer Support Unit and the Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
"The aim of the night wasn’t to raise funds for Colm Cooper albeit that people might have different views on that," Cooper said earlier this month.
“We wanted to have a GAA celebration because we’ve seen all these sporting stars in Ireland have these nights.
“And obviously the charities were very much to the fore of it as well. I’ve been very, very fortunate in my career to get a lot of support from different people.
“This is a way of giving back because I am conscious, I am probably old news already, but I will certainly be old news by 2018.
“This is probably me signing off. That’s basically the reasons behind it.”
Brolly added that it would be much better for Cooper to set an example highlighting that the 'GAA is not about ‘me,’ or 'what I can make from the GAA'', given his privileged standing as one of the finest footballers of his generation.
"He does have a privileged position," Brolly added.
"He will always earn well as a result of that privileged position and he will be very well looked after wherever he goes in the country. That’s great and it’s exactly as it should be.
"But as part of that, it would be much better for Colm to show example highlighting that the GAA is not about ‘me,’ or 'what I can make from the GAA'.
"I just think it’s very disappointing this has happened, and it’s a clear signal that this type of thing is okay.
"I think the testimonial is an extreme example of where we’re going. The GAA is supposed to have a principle of amateurism and volunteerism. It’s very disappointing."