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Chiefs can do little to deter stars from having testimonials

By Declan Bogue

It was a mighty night, the Colm 'Gooch' Cooper testimonial. Why couldn't you make it?

The craic we had. Ah stop! Myself and Niall 'Quinner' Quinn sinking pints like we had hollow legs. Playing two-up in the corridor with Ruby Walsh. Pretending to dunk on top of Kieran Donaghy. Comparing body fat with Bernard Brogan.

And the food! Vegetable soup to start with. Vol-au-vents. A choice, if you don't mind, of jugs of diluted orange or blackcurrant cordial. Turkey and ham. Pavlova. Well worth the €500 - would have given it twice over.

Yeah, of course I wasn't there. Had you going for a while, though.

Cooper's close friend and fellow Kerry great Donaghy said: "Everyone who was there, I don't think you'd have one person who didn't have a great night, who didn't enjoy the whole thing.

"To see Colm do well out of it, to see the charities do well out of it and his club and Kerry do well out of it, is massive."

And again, as much as we have tried our best to find things that don't sit easy with us about all of it, we are struggling.

However, the GAA at central level are deeply uneasy about it, including Director General Páraic Duffy. Here is what he said to RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke on the issue: "If you do an autobiography or punditry, you're not taking funds that could go to the GAA. If you're holding a major dinner, you're going to the same people to support the dinner or testimonial as you would to support a club event. That's the big concern I would have - plus the fact that it is against the ethos of the GAA to run a dinner where the individual benefits. We don't do that."

At €500 a plate, I'm not sure that is an accurate cross-section of the average club membership.

It's well known that the GAA are now seeking to close off the 'loophole' of these events.

But the only possible punishment could be a suspension from the Association- which retired players would either not mind terribly or almost be emboldened when the only option open to the GAA is so draconian.

Either way, they find themselves dealing in the half-language of semantics again.

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