Liam Miller match development hailed as ‘welcome’ as GAA seeks meeting

Organisation says it wants to discuss ‘issues’ on the tribute game for the soccer player

Liam Miller in action for Ireland against Colombia in a friendly in London in 2008. Photograph: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Liam Miller in action for Ireland against Colombia in a friendly in London in 2008. Photograph: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

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The GAA has confirmed it is seeking a meeting with the organisers of the Liam Miller tribute match in Cork.

The former Ireland international soccer player died from cancer aged 36 this year.

Tickets for the game on September 25th between a Manchester United Legends XI and a Celtic/Republic of Ireland XI at the 7,300-capacity Turner’s Cross in Cork sold out within minutes of going on sale on Friday.

Amid calls for the higher-capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh to host the benefit match instead, the GAA on Friday night said it was prohibited under its rules from hosting games other than those under its control in its stadiums and grounds and this could only be changed by GAA Congress in February.

However, a tweet posted by the organisation’s official account today said: “The GAA President and Ard Stiúrthóir, along with representatives of the Cork Committee, are to seek a meeting with the organising committee of the Liam Miller Tribute Match to discuss issues around the game.”

The development has been welcomed by Minister for Sport Shane Ross and Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin.

“We welcome this development and hope that positive and constructive dialogue can ensue,” they said in a statement.

It was also welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn.

“The fact that the tickets for Turner’s Cross were gone in 60 seconds give some small indication of how hugely respected young Liam Miller was and indeed how much he is missed by the sports community in Cork, Ireland and beyond,” said Mr Finn.

“The GAA is a huge organisation with a presence in every parish in the country and has rules for good reason in a competitive world, but this is about honouring a man who brought honour to Cork by holding a fundraising event in Munster’s premier venue and is in no way contravening a GAA rule.”

The decision by the GAA to meet the organisers of the event comes amid mounting political pressure over the issue, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin tweeting his support for the idea of the game being hosted in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which has a capacity of 45,000.

In a statement on Saturday, the Gaelic Players Association called on the GAA to make the venue available for the Liam Miller game.

The statement said: “The contribution by the GAA and its members to the social fabric of this nation is second to none. We are proud of the part our players past, present and future have played and will play in this. We feel that the decision being taken on this issue is not in line with our values as sportspeople and it should be revisited.”

Others from the worlds of politics and sport have backed the call for the GAA to make the venue available for the game, with Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard being the latest to join the chorus, saying “common sense must prevail”.

Former GAA president and Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly has also backed the move, as has Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer and Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on sport Kevin O’Keeffe has written to GAA president John Horan, asking him to support the move.

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