Crowd of 30,000 needed ‘to justify’ moving Liam Miller tribute

Late soccer player’s family happy GAA has let game go ahead at Páirc Uí Chaoimh - organiser

A file image of Liam Miller playing for the Republic of Ireland against  Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier in 2009. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

A file image of Liam Miller playing for the Republic of Ireland against Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier in 2009. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

 

The organisers of the Liam Miller tribute match have urged the Cork public to come out and support the event, saying an attendance of 30,000 plus will be needed to justify the GAA’s historic decision to allow the soccer to game go ahead at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Michael O’Flynn, chair of the match’s organising committee, welcomed the GAA’s decision which means a Manchester Utd Legends XI and a Celtic/Republic of Ireland XI will play at the home of Cork GAA.

Mr O’Flynn, a property developer and neighbour of the late Ovens, Co Cork soccer player’s family, said Miller’s wife Clare and mother Bridie were delighted at the news. The game aims to raise funds for the family of the late Republic of Ireland, Manchester Utd and Celtic player (36), who died of cancer in February.

“They were concerned given all the publicity the issue had generated but they are overwhelmed by the public support and delighted with the decision that the GAA authorities have made because they see Liam as coming from very much a GAA background with his club, Éire Óg,” he said, adding that the decision “will greatly help our cause and indeed other causes”.

The game had originally been due to take place at Cork City’s Turner’s Cross ground on September 25th, with all 7,300 tickets sold. Now the organisers will have space to accommodate up to 45,000 people at the recently renovated GAA ground.

Onus

Mr O’Flynn said there was no an onus on the organisers to ensure the game was a success at the bigger venue but that he had every confidence.

“We need 30,000 plus to justify what we are doing and given the size of the stadium, but I am confident that we will get that. Cork is a great sporting county and a great sporting city and I have no doubt but that Cork people are going to come out and pay tribute to a great Cork sportsman.”

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, is hosting a banquet in Cork City Hall after the benefit game to raise funds for the Miller family and Marymount Hospice, where the sportsman died in February.

He said he was “delighted for the Miller family and all involved in the event” at the GAA’s “common sense” decision which he said ought to be applauded. The association had originally said its rules prohibited the staging of a soccer match at the stadium without a vote being taken at its annual congress.

“It’s easy for the social media experts to castigate the GAA,” Cllr Finn said. “Some of the criticism levelled has been rooted in ignorance of what the association means to people - but it has its rules and don’t forget it was the avenue in which Liam first came to sporting prominence.

‘Unites’

The Lord Mayor added: “This controversy cannot have been easy for Liam’s family to see and hear everyday and I hope a line can now be drawn under it and that everyone unites in support of them and charity partner Marymount (Hospice).”

Cllr Finn also hoped that the bigger venue could allow for different ticket pricing brackets to open up the event to the unemployed, OAPs, students and school kids. Tickets for the game at Turner’s Cross had been priced at a standard €50 without any concessions.Mr O’Flynn said he hoped this could be arranged.

The organising committee is to meet the Cork County Board on Monday to discuss the logistics of holding the soccer match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.