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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
GAA's gift to Special Olympics
Sean Kelly pictured with the GAA's director-general Liam Mulvihill
GAA president Sean Kelly (right) will be involved in the ceremony

The Special Olympics has been boosted by a cheque of 250,000 Euro from the GAA.

The money was raised by GAA clubs throughout Ireland as well as GAA staff at Croke Park.

Croke Park is hosting Saturday's opening ceremony which promises to a spectacular affair with Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and rock ban U2 among those contributing.

GAA president Sean Kelly said it was "appropriate" that Croke Park would host the ceremony.

"Both organisations are rooted in the community and are run by volunteers who have a passion for sport and what sport can achieve in the communities they represent," said Kelly.

GAA director-general Liam Mulvihill added that many of the association's members have been involved in the hosts towns programme ahead of the Games.

It is a singular honour for me, the GAA and the country to have been asked to lead the parade
GAA president Sean Kelly

"Most of the volunteers involved in creating the Croke Park backdrop over the last week have been provided by Dublin GAA clubs," added Mr Mulvihill.

Mr Kelly said he was confident that the Irish people would prove "worthy and hospitable hosts".

"The impact of the games will reverberate through the country and right around the globe.

"It is a singular honour for me, the GAA and the country to have been asked to lead the parade in tomorrow's spectacular," added Mr Kelly.

Muhammad Ali will be returning to a venue where he fought 31 years ago.

Ali defeated compatriot Al 'Blue' Lewis in a non-title bout at Croke Park in July 1972.

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