The biggest annual celebration of Gaelic games in the U.S. marked its fifth anniversary on October 6, when 500 guests packed into the gilded ballroom of New York’s Plaza Hotel for a gala dinner hosted by the Gaelic Players Association (GPA).
The Master of Ceremonies was RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey, and a host of all-star players, male and female, were in attendance, including Tipperary’s senior hurling team captain Brendan Maher and Dublin’s football captain Denis Bastick, both fresh from their All-Ireland triumphs. The Women’s Gaelic Players Association was represented by chairperson Aoife Lane and Gemma Begley.
The event was an opportunity to celebrate the past sports season and highlight the success of various GPA programs that make a real difference to the lives of Ireland’s outstanding amateur Gaelic athletes.
The Ireland-U.S. Gaelic Heritage Award went to business leader, philanthropist and inspirational human being Robert J. McCann, chairman of UBS Americas, whose admiration of Gaelic games and its amateur players was expressed in his acceptance speech.
Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh received the Spirit of Ireland Award. Aer Lingus has a long tradition in supporting sporting events and is a proud partner of the GPA.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were also presented on the night to two very special players from the Offaly football teams of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.
Legendary goalkeeper Martin Furlong and iconic forward Seamus Darby were re-united from either side of the Atlantic to celebrate their remarkable careers.
The GPA launched a new initiative on the night – the Mark Your Man Campaign – aimed at both saving and transforming lives. Two players, Alan O’Mara and Conor Cusack, spoke eloquently about the challenges for people suffering from emotional distress and how the new campaign can help tackle those issues. ♦
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