Central Council to hold special meeting on Liam Miller match

GAA under increasing pressure from Government to open Páirc Uí Chaoimh

The Central Council of the GAA is to hold a specially-convened meeting on Saturday morning to discuss the issue of holding a tribute match for the family of the late Liam Miller at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, amid growing political pressure on the association to make the stadium available.

It is unclear whether any formal proposal or motion will come before Central Council, which meets at Croke Park and which has representatives from each of the 32 county boards in Ireland, as well as representatives for schools, players and overseas sectors.

Central Council is the governing body of the association between congresses, and frequently endorses proposals put forward by management that do not require the approval of the annual congress.

However, the GAA has said that opening up Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the Liam Miller Benefit Match would require a change to Rule 5.1 which can only happen at annual congress in February, so it is unclear what Central Council can decide to do at this special meeting.


The GAA is coming under increasing political pressure from the Government to make Páirc Uí Chaoimh available, not only on foot of the €30 million State grant which was given to help redevelop the Cork ground but also because of general sports grants given to the GAA.


Last year, according to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the GAA was given almost €17 million in grants for the development of pitches and grounds around the country through the Sports Capital Programme, while it also benefitted under similar schemes in 2014 and 2015.

Both Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and the Minister of State at that department, Brendan Griffin, have urged the GAA to make Páirc Uí Chaoimh available for the game.

The organisers of 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 and a Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland selection are hoping the GAA will change its mind on making the GAA pitch available.

Holding the game next month at the 45,000-capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh as opposed to Turner’s Cross, which has a capacity of just 7,300, would allow thousands more fans to attend while raising funds for Liam Miller’s family and Marymount Hospice, where he died from cancer at the age of 36 in February.


Earlier this week GAA president John Horan and director general Tom Ryan, along with Cork County Board chairwoman Tracey Kennedy and Cork county secretary Frank Murphy met the organisers of the fundraising match for almost two hours at Croke Park.

The Liam Miller Tribute Match organising committee was represented by its chairman Cork developer Michael O'Flynn, former Arsenal player and football agent Graham Barrett who was a close friend of Liam Miller, and Ciaran Medlar, partner and head of tax at BDO Ireland.

Afterwards both sides issued a joint statement in which they said “both sides agreed the meeting was open and constructive, and the GAA will now further consider the proposal discussed at the meeting.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times