The inaugural Kerry GAA Gala Fundraising Black Tie Dinner held at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel, Dublin on the eve of the League game between the two All Ireland finalists last weekend turned out to be a tremendous success. The large attendance of over 600 people included many of the legendary stars of the great Kerry-Dublin clashes down the years with the Kerry representatives led by trainer supreme, Mick O’Dwyer and centenary captain Ambrose O’Donovan, as well as Ogie Moran, Ger Power, Darragh and Mark O’Sé, Jerome O Shea and Johnny Cullotty while the Brogans, Bernard senior and junior, Tommy Drumm and Alan Larkin, to name but a few, were there representing the Dubs. Johnny Sexton of Rugby fame, who has strong Kerry links, and Mick Galwey were also present and the hurling fraternity were ably represented by Tipperary’s Liam Sheedy and Kilkenny’s own Eddie Keher. We also spotted Jimmy Deenihan, Sean Walsh, Paudie Lynch, Seamus Moynihan and Aidan O’Mahoney in the packed dining room. Sean Walsh, Chairman of the Munster Council was also in attendance. Darragh Moloney of RTE did an excellent job as MC for the night which included interviews with Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper, James O’Donoghue and Bernard Brogan. Entertainment was led by the great Liam O’Connor. Bidding was strong in an auction which included Kerry and Dublin GAA and other collector’s sporting memorabilia, with Tom Spillane bringing his auctioneering skills to bear.

Not surprisingly, Kerry County Committee Chairman, Patrick O’Sullivan, was very pleased with the night; “It was a very successful event and a tremendous occasion as well and it marked our first attempt at organising a major fundraiser in the capital. The Kerry business people in Dublin came out in force and I want to thank everyone who supported the event and especially the organising committee under Luke Moriarty, John Gallagher, Richard Willis and Mark Kennelly”.

All proceeds from Friday’s event will be invested in the development of training and coaching facilities at the Kerry Centre of Excellence projects in Currans and Tralee IT. Despite the disappointment of the result last week and the All Ireland Senior Football Final, 2015 has been a very successful year for Kerry GAA. Our minor and junior footballers both won All Ireland titles. The Hogan Cup was retained by Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne. Our senior hurlers won the Christy Ring Cup and retained their Division 2a league title and, as a result, will play in Division 1B of the national league this year. For Kerry’s success to continue, the Centre of Excellence project is so important. It will provide Kerry GAA with the necessary infrastructure to ensure that all our young players can benefit from having world class sports facilities within their own county. The County Board are delighted to report that of the total funding requirement of €5.8 million they have now passed the €5.3 million mark and are very confident of reaching their final target by the end of 2016. The chairman also revealed plans for further fundraising events in various locations in the coming months; “We are presently planning for fundraising Golf Classics in London, Boston, Chicago and New York and an inaugural Fundraising Dinner and Golf Classic in San Francisco in May. Construction of Dressing Room facilities is due to commence in Currans at the end of the month and hopefully all those facilities will be in place and ready for use in the Autumn” he added.
Those who were fortunate enough to be present at this glittering occasion came away having heard several stories from the Golden Years told by those who were on the playing field during this great era in Kerry footballing history.
Click here to see photos from the fundraising dinner.