GAA officials to meet on Tuesday over Liam Miller benefit match
Association under pressure to allow Páirc Uí Chaoimh be used for fundraising soccer game
Members of the Liam Miller Benefit Match organising committee Cork City FC manager John Caulfield; Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Mick Finn; committee chairman Michael O’Flynn, and Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane. Photograph: Brian Lougheed
The organisers of a benefit match for former Republic of Ireland soccer player Liam Miller are to meet with GAA officials on Tuesday in a bid to resolve an impasse over whether the game can be played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Chair of the organising committee, developer, Michael O’Flynn confirmed he and some of his committee colleagues will meet with senior GAA officials including GAA director general Tom Ryan and GAA president John Horan to discuss the location of the Liam Miller benefit game.
Mr O’Flynn would not be drawn at this stage on where the meeting will take place but he did say that he hoped to be in a position to update the media after the meeting which follows a weekend of intense lobbying by senior political figures to get the GAA to talk to the organising committee.
Several politicians including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer had expressed disappointment that the benefit game would have to go ahead at the 7,300 capacity Turners Cross soccer stadium in Cork rather than the 45,000 capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The €50 tickets for the game between a Manchester United Legends XI managed by Roy Keane and featuring former stars such as Denis Irwin, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand against a Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland selection managed by Martin O’Neill sold out in minutes.
Proceeds of the game to be held on September 25th together with the proceeds of a banquet at Cork City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, go the family of Liam Miller who died at the age of 36 from oesophageal cancer at Marymount Hospice in Cork last February.
Cork County Council have unanimously backed a call from Fianna Fáil Cllr Bernard Moynihan welcoming the offer of talks from GAA HQ and encouraging both sides to find a resolution that would allow the game proceed at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
However, a source close to the GAA cautioned against presuming the association was on the verge of conceding on the issue.
“I have no doubt that the association will change its rules in time to allow games such as this take place but it will require that change to come at annual congress,” the source remarked.
“Asking Central Council to change it in advance of an annual congress even on a once-off basis is unlikely to happen and what you are likely to get coming out of this meeting with the organisers is some sort of compromise - maybe an offer of a fundraising hurling match for Liam Miller’s family.”
The GAA source also pointed out that holding a once off charity match in Páirc Uí Chaoimh could cause controversy within the GAA given the number of former GAA players who had been seriously injured in recent years and who would benefit from fund-raising challenge games.
Earlier, GAA commentator and broadcaster Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh said allowing the match to go ahead in Páirc Uí Chaoimh would create good will “and above all would boost the fundraising”.
“This is not a match - it is a fundraiser,” he said, referring to the GAA prohibition on games other than those under its control being played in its stadiums and grounds.
Mr Ó Muircheartaigh told RTÉ Radio One: “The GAA prides itself on being a community-based organisation, on a very high level, but for this, the entire Cork community, they are all together, they would love to see this happening.
“So would, I would say, 99 per cent of the people all over the country.”