The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) is to host its first ever New York dinner gala on Thursday, 15th November 2012 at which the Association will inaugurate the Ireland - US Gaelic Heritage Awards. The first recipient of the award will be Donald R. Keough, Chairman of the Board of Allen and Company Inc. and former President of The Coca-Cola Company.

Sponsored by the global independent advisory firm, Teneo Holdings, and chaired by its CEO and Irish American business leader, Declan Kelly, the Ireland US Gaelic Heritage Awards and dinner gala forms a key part of the GPA’s on-going building of a support network in the United States for its work at home in Ireland.

The inaugural event has been timed to coincide with the visit of the 2011 and 2012 GAA/GPA Gaelic Football All-Stars to New York. Ireland’s elite Gaelic sportsmen will attend the dinner gala in honor of Keough’s cultural and economic contributions to Ireland.

The Ireland - US Gaelic Heritage Awards and the dinner gala are designed to celebrate and acknowledge the deep historical and cultural ties between the two countries, recognizing a shared ancestry of which Ireland’s unique Gaelic sporting heritage is an intrinsic part.

In celebrating this rich heritage, the GPA is honoring Donald Keough for his lifelong devotion to Ireland and its economic wellbeing. Through his leadership of The Coca-Cola Company and his tireless commitment to attracting foreign direct investment to Ireland, Keough has made a major contribution to the economic development of modern Ireland.

As founder of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, and through his leadership with the University of Notre Dame, Keough has helped strengthen the scholarly and cultural links between the US and Ireland.

Coca-Cola’s founding sponsorship of the annual Gaelic games youth tournament, Féile na nGael, over 40 years ago facilitated the social, cultural and personal development of generations of young Irish people.

Speaking about the forthcoming event in New York, GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell said “This event is a hugely important occasion for the Gaelic Players Association and its members. By developing a network of supporters in the US, we are now in a position to host exceptional events of this nature and we are privileged to honor an Irish American giant in the world of international business, Donald Keough who has been a tireless friend to Ireland.

 “The aim of our dinner gala and fundraising efforts in the U.S. is both to strengthen our ability to support our players in critical areas of their lives and to bolster the GPA’s ambition to make a meaningful difference in Irish society. It is also our intention, by building on the Ireland-U.S. Gaelic Heritage Awards, to develop future links between the elite sportsmen of Gaelic games and Irish American sports stars,” concluded Farrell.

The Ireland-U.S. Gaelic Heritage Awards and Dinner Gala will take place in the Marriott Marquis Hotel New York on Thursday, 15th November 2012.

Tyrone footballer Conor Gormley, Kerry Footballer Darran O'Sullivan, CEO Gaelic Players Association, Dessie Farrell, and Niall Ó Muilleoir, Senior Vice President with Teneo Strategy (also Kevin Whelan, Director and Lisa Caulfield, Asst Director, Keough NBarry Cregg, Sportsfile