GAA decision due tomorrow on hosting of Liam Miller tribute

By Joe Leogue and Elaine Loughlin

A decision from the GAA’s Central Council is expected tomorrow on whether or not to host the tribute match to the late Liam Miller at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Tonight there were indications that the GAA’s management committee had given the green light for the game to go ahead, after the association had previously stated it was prohibited by its rules from hosting the occasion - leading to widespread criticism not to assist the charity event.

Its recommendation will be presented to a special meeting of the GAA’s Central Council tomorrow— comprised of representatives from every county and delegates schools, players and other bodies under the GAA’s remit.

Miller died last February aged 36 following a battle with oesophagal cancer.

Tickets for the match at the 7,000-capacity Turners Cross in aid of Miller’s widow, three children, and Marymount Hospice sold out in minutes last week, and is set to feature his former Manchester United, Celtic, and Ireland teammates.

The Irish Examiner understands that if held at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the event will include a GAA aspect as an acknowledgement of both the match venue and Mr Miller’s time as a player for his local club Éire Óg, and that other causes may benefit from the occasion.

The match will take place on Tuesday, September 25 regardless of the venue, so as not to clash with the participating players’ weekend media duties covering the English Premier League.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said GAA Central Council should have “discretion” to make decisions to avoid similar controversies in the future.

“If you don’t allow discretion, you are going to come up against events like this,” he said.

Mr Martin, whose Cork South Central constituency incorporates both Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Turners Cross, said: “The GAA is rooted in community, Liam Miller’s family is of our community, Liam Miller was of our community and Páirc Uí Chaoimh is underpinned by our community.

“I was at Liam Miller’s funeral and it was very sad and very poignant but it came across how rooted he was in the community and he played with Cork Under-15 GAA.

"He played with Tom Kenny, the famous Cork hurler, and that is Cork, people grow up in a GAA environment, they play soccer, you might play a bit of rugby, the best GAA players became soccer players. It’s a very ecumenical sporting city, it’s a mad sporting city in some respects.”

He said he is glad talks have now been held and that they can come to a resolution to allow the match take place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“The pride now in Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh is genuine and across the board it’s a fantastic stadium,” he said.

“It’s going to become a magnet for other events, the Ed Sheeran concert, for example, was not just a sell-out it was brilliantly organised it was seamless, great joy and the acoustics were bang on. So that’s the good news side of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.”

Mr Martin added that, given the massive investment in the stadium, it now must be fully utilised and that means having “more than a few GAA games each year”.

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