Irish All-Star Athletes Take New York

Members of both the 2011 and 2012 GAA GPA All-Star teams gather for a team photograph in Times Square on their way to the Gaelic Players Association Ireland - U.S. Gaelic Heritage Awards & Dinner Gala. Photo: Ray McManus.

December / January 2013

The Gaelic Players Association “GPA,” the umbrella group for 2,500 Irish football and hurling athletes, held their first annual dinner in New York on November 15. It was a smashing success, with over 400 prominent Irish-Americans attending as well as the two All-Star teams from Ireland, the Minister of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, and GAA president Liam O’Neill.

Donald Keough, former Coca-Cola president, who was on hand to receive the inaugural Irish-U.S. Gaelic Heritage Award, praised the Irish footballers and hurlers, who play for love and not for money, calling them an example to athletes everywhere. Keough, who founded the Keough-Naughton Center of Irish Studies at Notre Dame and works tirelessly to promote Irish and Irish-American relations, was one of the main movers behind the Notre Dame vs. Navy game in Ireland this year, which was an outstanding success.

Dessie Farrell, GPA’s CEO, who did an admirable job as MC for the evening, talked about the need to promote all aspects of player welfare, especially in the areas of health care, job placement and education. The event was sponsored by Teneo, whose Tipperary-born CEO Declan Kelly, a former player, is passionate about Gaelic games.

A film tribute to Keough featured remarks from such luminaries as Taoiseach Enda Kenny, former President George H.W. Bush, and Warren Buffet.

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