LIAM Miller was given a fitting farewell by some of the leading lights in Irish soccer yesterday.
The 36-year-old was laid to rest following his battle with cancer in his native Ovens with Roy Keane, Martin O’Neill, Denis Irwin, Kevin Kilbane, Kevin Doyle and Steve Staunton among the mourners in the large crowd.
The FAI were also represented by CEO John Delaney and President and Corkonian Tony Fitzgerald. The Cork City team were led by manager John Caulfield and assistant manager John Cotter, who like Liam started his soccer career with Ballincollig AFC, and a large contingent of City’s players, backroom and supporters.
Former City favourites Declan Daly, Philip Long and Colin Healy, who played with Miller at Ballincollig, Celtic, Ireland and Cork City, were also on hand to pay tribute to the talented sports man.
Celtic was his first port of call as a professional and the Bhoys were out in force, including former team-mates Shaun Maloney, Aiden McGeady, Stephen McManus and John Kennedy – who is now a coach under Brendan Rodgers, legendary right-back Danny McGrain and Willie Stay.
McStay was Celtic’s youth team coach when Miller signed for Celtic as a 16-year-old and spoke at the end of the funeral mass about his natural talent.
“His composure on the ball, his awareness of everything around him, his fitness levels and his creativity marked him out as a great player,” said McStay.
The community in Ovens and Ballincollig were out in force as they rallied around his family, Billy and Bridie, brothers Sean, Robby and Martin and sister Suzanne, his wife Clare and children Kory, Leo and Belle, at this devastating time. At the removal on Sunday night the underage section of Ballincollig AFC provided a guard of honour.
Among the items brought up during the offertory were the jerseys of Manchester United, Celtic and Ireland, as well as a framed photo of the Ovens National School team that Liam captained to Sciath na Scol title. Before he excelled as a soccer player, he had been a budding hurler and footballer with Éire Óg.
Liam’s brother-in-law Dan Sheedy delivered a moving eulogy, with focused on his commitment to his family and love for his wife and children over any sporting achievements.
“Like any man I’d like to live a long life, but that’s tempered by the fact I could live a dozen lives and I wouldn’t be half the man Liam Miller was,” he said.