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Cork City's Liam Miller. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City's Liam Miller. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Pressure on GAA continues to grow over Miller tribute game

PRESSURE continues to grow on the GAA to relax their stance surrounding the venue of the Liam Miller tribute game, with dozens of public figures weighing in on the matter.

Tickets for the charity game, currently scheduled for the 7,000-capacity Turner’s Cross, sold out in minutes, with calls intensifying since to move the game to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

However, GAA chiefs have yet to change their stance, citing internal rules as prohibitive.

They have been widely criticised due to the nature of the game: a fundraiser for the Miller family and Marymount Hospice.

Former Cork football manager Billy Morgan described the current standoff as ‘embarrassing.’

Billy Morgan, former Cork manager said GAA people in cork are embarrassed over the situation. Picture: Kieran Clancy
Billy Morgan, former Cork manager said GAA people in cork are embarrassed over the situation. Picture: Kieran Clancy
He added that the occasion would be a great opportunity to showcase Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which he described as a fantastic stadium that would stand up to any in Europe.

“I used the word embarrassed,” he said.

“Talking to GAA people over the weekend, they also expressed that opinion, they felt embarrassed by it,” he said.

“It is an embarrassing situation that we do not allow our stadium to be used for a sporting hero of Cork.

“I just hope, at the end of the day, that common sense prevails.”

Former Republic of Ireland international footballer Damien Duff also blasted GAA authorities for their refusal to allow the staging of the charity game at the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The pundit said that authorities should ‘hang their heads in shame’ for the manner in which the affair has been handled. The Premier League winner is one of those who has agreed to take part in the game.

former Irish international Damian Duff said GAA bosses should hang their heads in shame. Pic: Morgan Treacy
former Irish international Damian Duff said GAA bosses should hang their heads in shame. Pic: Morgan Treacy
“They’ve come out of it looking horrific,” said Duff.

“To brush it aside and leave it for an AGM, it’s a load of rubbish. It’s people in suits who are absolute dinosaurs.

“It’s a disgrace. To say you can’t open your gates for an amazing occasion for people from all walks of life to help a family.

“To deny them because of a rule at the bottom of a book really pisses me off. They should hang their heads in shame. And whatever they say now, they’ll still come out of it looking like f*****g dinosaurs.”

The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, said that he was delighted that talks would be held between the GAA and the organisers of the testimonial match.

Bishop Buckley said the match is an event worthy of support and many Cork people would like to attend. He added that Miller had played Gaelic football as well as soccer and said that he hoped a way could be found to resolve the matter to everyone’s satisfaction.

Former GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh said that the whole of Cork has come together over this and wants to see the game take place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“I believed from the start it should have gone ahead,” he added.

“This is not a match, it’s a fundraiser for a most worthy cause.”

MEP Sean Kelly, who was president of the GAA when Croke Park hosted rugby and soccer internationals, also called for a resolution, tweeting that he has ‘been working behind the scenes’ to get the event to take place.

However, despite the hopes of a resolution today, GAA sources have stressed that today’s meeting is not an indication that the game will be hosted at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

In fact, fears have been expressed internally that relaxing their stance could cause discontent throughout the organisation, in particular with regards to the number of former GAA players who had been seriously injured in recent years and had not benefitted from high-profile charity games.

Some reports have indicated that a compromise solution could be proposed by the GAA involving a charity hurling or Gaelic football game at the stadium, with the funds raised being donated to the cause.