Republic of Ireland news

Cork GAA 'receptive' to Liam Miller memorial soccer match

GAA president John Horan is to meet organisers of the tribute match for Liam Miller. Picture by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

THE GAA's president and director general are to meet organisers of a soccer match in memory of former Republic of Ireland player Liam Miller as the association faces mounting pressure to host the game.

The former Manchester United, Celtic and Cork City midfielder, who also played for Éire Óg GAA club in Cork in his youth, died of cancer in February aged 36.

A benefit match between a Manchester United legends team and a combined Celtic/Ireland side has been organised for September 25.

It is to be held at Turner's Cross soccer stadium in Cork, which has a capacity of 7,500, after organisers were refused permission to use the GAA's Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

It has a 45,000 capacity and could have increased the funds raised for the family and charitable causes by an estimated €2 million.

Liam Miller, who played for the Republic of Ireland, died in February aged 36. Picture by Steve Parsons, Press Association

On Friday the GAA had said the Cork County Committee and Central Council "have no discretion in this matter".

"Only a change at Annual Congress can alter this situation. Congress takes place in February each year," it said.

Politicians and GAA players have strongly criticised the association's stance, with the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) also calling on it to re-consider.

"We feel that the decision being taken here doesn't align with our values as sportspeople and needs to be revisited," it said.

Reports at the weekend suggested that Cork County Board is receptive to the plan and the GAA may now relent and give the match its blessing.

Liam Miller played for Éire Óg GAA club in his youth and is pictured at Páirc Uí Chaoimh holding a trophy with team mates. Picture via social media

In a post on Saturday, the GAA's official Twitter feed read: "The GAA President and Ard Stiúrthóir (director general), 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 association's ban on non-GAA games being played in its grounds was relaxed in 2007 to allow both soccer and rugby to be played in Croke Park while Lansdowne Road stadium was redeveloped.

Stadia are also used for other purposes such as concerts, with musician Ed Sheeran playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in May.

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