Miller family ‘humbled’ by match support

Liam Miller and Roy Keane who is said to be “delighted” to be playing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

By Joe Leogue

The family of the late Liam Miller have been “humbled” by the outpouring of support for a tribute match to the late football star, according to the event’s organisers — who have called on the public to follow through on this support by going to the relocated occasion.

The organising committee last night confirmed tickets for the match between a Manchester United XI and Celtic/Ireland XI will go on sale on Monday, August 13, and will range in price from €10 concessions to €90 for premium level access.

Those who already bought tickets for the match at its original venue in Turners Cross will receive tickets for the South Stand of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The September 25 event’s half-time entertainment will feature a display of hurling and Gaelic football by juvenile members of Mr Miller’s local club, Éire Óg.

Organising committee members Michael O’Flynn, Cork City FC manager John Caulfield, former Republic of Ireland international Graham Barrett, and Ciarán Medlar revealed the details at a press conference in Cork yesterday.

Mr Miller died at the age of 36 this year following a battle with esophageal cancer.

Mr O’Flynn said Mr Miller’s widow Claire was “humbled and overwhelmed” when she was told the venue would change to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, after the GAA had initially ruled out hosting the match there.

There’s a fantastic community spirit in Ireland, and there’s a great sporting spirit in Cork,” he said. “She obviously has been with Liam an awful long time and she’s been in many parts of the world, but this was home to Liam. Liam was keen that his wife and children would continue here when he knew his situation was terminal. She’s just amazed by the support and the outcome.

Mr O’Flynn was also in frequent contact with Mr Miller’s parents, Bridie and Billy. “I spoke with Bridie a lot in the last few days, they’re just delighted things are going to move on,” he said.

“But they are grieving, it has been a really tough time and this has been on the papers every day — but now we’re getting onto a very positive phase. They’re extremely grateful that there’s such an effort out there to recognise Liam and pay tribute to him.”

Mr O’Flynn said he hopes people will now turn out in force for a once-off celebration, despite the Tuesday afternoon kick-off.

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.

He said Roy Keane, who will take part in the match, is “delighted” to be playing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“He’s giving huge credit, as everybody is, to the difficult position in which the GAA found themselves, and the fact that they have managed to find a way to give us the stadium rent-free. It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Mr O’Flynn.

“They were in an awkward position. I think they have faced up to the reality that there was a very large outcry to have this game, and they found a way. I think we have to give them credit for finding a way.”

Mr O’Flynn said the proceeds are committed to the Miller family and Marymount Hospice at present, but that more are likely to benefit. “We’re obviously hoping that we’re going to have a huge turnout, the more that turn out, the more charities will benefit.”

Mr O’Flynn confirmed that a broadcaster has shown interest in televising the occasion.

Mr Barrett was a close friend of Mr Miller’s, having grown up together through the underage ranks at international level.

He described his friend as “one of the kindest people you could meet”, and said organising the occasion has afforded people who are still grieving his loss an opportunity to focus on something positive.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Páirc Uí Chaoimh, I know it’s a brilliant stadium, especially since it’s been done up. I think it’s really special the game is taking place in Cork because I think it’s a real Cork event.

“I remember, growing up, being down here loads with Liam, and Bridie and Billy and his family. It will be a really special day to remember Liam, a special day for his kids, to understand what their dad did when he played and how he lived his life. I hope everyone turns out and I think they will, there’s been a huge support for the event,” he said.

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