The organisers of the Liam Miller Benefit Match have confirmed the GAA is to make Páirc Uí Chaoimh available for the charity fund-raiser free of charge. And the event, on September 25th, will include a juvenile GAA match to remember the former soccer player's GAA background.
Chair of the Liam Miller Benefit Match organising committee, developer Michael O'Flynn confirmed that Cork County Board chair, Tracey Kennedy and Cork County secretary, Frank Murphy had agreed the ground should be made available rent-free for the charity event.
“The Cork County Board has kindly agreed that we would have Páirc Uí Chaoimh rent free and we have also agreed that the GAA element of the event will be a juvenile match involving members of Liam’s home club of Eire Og in Ovens that will be played at half-time in the soccer match,” he said.
“That will be quite a unique situation - it will be both girls and boys and it will be both hurling and football and we expect that we will have both games go ahead at the same time across the pitch, as happens at half-time in major GAA championship games.”
Mr O’Flynn said he expected that there will be considerable interest in the event in the UK. He confirmed they were currently in discussions with one broadcaster about the possibility of the game being televised, but the logistics of doing that have to be examined closely.
Liam Miller, who died from cancer at the age of 36, played for Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic and the Republic of Ireland. Former teammates of his from all three teams will line out in the benefit game between a Manchester United XI and a Glasgow Celtic/Ireland combination.
Mr O’Flynn also confirmed that tickets for the game will go on sale via ticket.ie on August 13th and that hosting the game at the 45,000 capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh rather than at the 7,300 seat Turners Cross means the organisers can introduce concessionary priced tickets.
Ticket prices will begin at €10 with such tickets available for OAPs and students on the terraces and €25 for the South Stand. Full price tickets will start at €20 for the terraces and range from €40 to €50 for the North and South Stand. Premium tickets on the South Stand will cost €90.
The 7,000 or so people who snapped up the tickets for the game when it was scheduled to go ahead at Turners Cross will be able to use their existing tickets in the South Stand of the €80 million recently-developed Páirc Uí Chaoimh, he added.
‘Humbled and overwhelmed’
Mr O'Flynn, who met the Cork County Board officials with fellow organising committee members, former Republic of Ireland player, Graham Barrett, Cork City FC Manager, John Caulfield and tax partner, Ciaran Medlar, said Liam Miller's family were grateful to the GAA for hosting the game.
“Liam’s widow, Clare was humbled and overwhelmed by the community spirit here on this issue - the family weren’t comfortable with the glare of publicity but they were completely overwhelmed by the public support and are delighted that it can now go ahead at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.”
“They lived in many parts of the world but Cork was home to Liam and he was keen, when he knew his situation was terminal , that his family would come to live here and Clare, who is from Glasgow, is just amazed at the response there has been here in Cork to this event.”
Mr O’Flynn said they were hoping that a lot of the GAA volunteers who help with stewarding at Páirc Uí Chaoimh will assist with the smooth running of the Liam Miller Benefit Match, but Cork City FC would also make some of its volunteer stewards available if necessary.
He also said the organisers would meet any costs such as Garda overtime if extra gardaí are required to assist with traffic management in the Blackrock and Ballintemple areas.
Mr O’Flynn said a 3pm weekday kickoff was not the ideal time for hosting the game, but hosting an evening banquet which will be attended by many of the former soccer stars meant it had to an afternoon kickoff. He hoped companies would be flexible in allowing staff to attend.
“This is a unique Cork sporting day and I think people will treat it as such and hopefully, employers and perhaps schools in the city and county will be understanding of the situation so that we can have a full stadium and people can pay a fitting tribute to a great Cork sportsman,” he said.