MORE than 42,000 roaring fans, a star-studded line-up, a black-tie gala ball and the attention of the footballing world ... and it was all for one proud Corkman.
The footballing world and the people of Cork were determined to pay tribute to the late Liam Miller, the boy from Ovens who fulfilled his childhood dreams by playing for Cork City, Manchester United, Celtic and the Republic of Ireland.
It was clear this would be a day to remember for everyone who attended.
A star-studded line-out, including the likes of Denis Irwin, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, took to the field in honour of their former team-mate.
A fitting tribute for a man described as a true gentleman, the event will go down in history as a proud moment for Cork, and everyone involved, from fans and organisers to players and pundits.
It has raised an estimated €1.5 million for Miller’s family and local charities.
With the stadium at full capacity, a moments silence fell across the Páirc for Miller, who passed away at the age of 36 earlier this year, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The roar that reverberated around the stadium upon the referee’s whistle would have been heard for miles around.
With the level of talent on display, the crowd were enthralled, aware of the fact that nothing like this may ever happen again in Cork.
Avid Cork City supporter Paul Smith said it was an occasion he will always remember.
“It’s great to see the stadium opened up for it and to see such a huge turnout is fantastic,” added the Farranree man. “It shows how highly Liam Miller was regarded and it’s a fantastic tribute to him.”
Blackrock native Mark Lonergan followed the career of Miller since a young age.
“I was a huge fan of his, I followed his career across Scotland and England even to Australia and back to Cork,” he said.
“To have this huge event in Cork, a tribute to Liam Miller is amazing.
“It’s great for his family and all involved and it’s something I’ll certainly always remember,” he added.
“As a Man United fan and Corkman, it’s amazing to be here, to see the likes of Scholes and Giggs line out in Cork. Nothing like this will ever happen again.”
The game was not short of Cork representatives, with Denis Irwin lining out for United and scoring the first official soccer goal at the home of Cork GAA.
Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty got a roar when he came on in the 60th-minute mark. However, one of the largest cheers of the game came when Man United number 16, Roy Keane, stepped out onto the hallowed turf.
The former Ireland and Man United captain’s every touch was cheered as Corkonians delighted in welcoming one of their own home.
A celebration of Liam Miller’s life, yesterday’s event highlighted how he became the athlete he was as under-12s from his former GAA club, Éire Óg, took to the pitch at half-time. Miller represented his club at underage level, widely regarded as one of the finest to come through its ranks. The main event proved to be an entertaining one, with penalties needed to separate the two sides after a 2-2 draw over 90 minutes.
Speaking after the game, Denis Irwin, who scored the opening goal, said it was a great occasion to play at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The Ireland legend, whose first game for United was at Musgrave Park, added it was great to see the huge turnout both from fans and former players.