The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) has been criticised for its refusal to hold a benefit match for the late Ireland player Liam Miller on September 25.
A Manchester United XI is scheduled to take on a combined Celtic/Ireland XI to raise funds for Miller’s family and the Marymount Hospice and the 45,000 capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the midfielder’s home county of Cork was identified as a possible venue.
Owing to a rule which states the GAA should only stage games under its own control – thereby effectively banning sports like football and rugby from its premises – the association says it will not host the game.
Cork City’s Turners Cross – with a much smaller capacity of just under 7,500 – is instead due to host it.
“The GAA is prohibited in rule from hosting games other than those under the control of the Association in its stadia and grounds,” a statement released on Friday said. “The Cork County Committee and Central Council have no discretion in this matter.”
The GAA says any request to host the game must come through its annual congress, which does not take place until next February. It also stated that it would offer free hospitality facilities to assist in fundraising for the match.
That decision has raised considerable criticism of the GAA in Ireland with Miller’s former team-mate Andy Reid describing it as “scandalous”.
Scandalous the Gaa wouldn’t allow the use of Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the Liam miller memorial match, Liam represented ireland from u15 all the way up to senior level and gave everything, shocking!!! No problem having Garth brooks or Neil diamond play Croker tho😏— Andy Reid (@AndyReidXI) July 19, 2018
Many more online have pointed out that the GAA has allowed concerts at the Cork venue in the past while the rule in question was relaxed in 2005 to allow other sports to be held at Croke Park – the GAA’s flagship stadium in Dublin - while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped.
The Lord Mayor of Cork - Mick Finn – approached the Cork County Board about the possibility of hosting the game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but was told only it would require a rule change from the GAA’s Central Committee.
A renovation of the stadium was completed in 2017 at a cost of about €80m with the Irish government contributing €30m. The rules covering that State grant say that the ground “could be rented out to other field sports”.
However the GAA states it has taken legal advice and believes it is in line with those requirements with its decision to forbid the game from taking place.
Tickets for the game sold out within minutes of going on sale on Friday morning. Ireland legends Robbie Keane and Damien Duff are due to take part with Martin O’Neill managing the Irish/Celtic selection and his assistant manager Roy Keane taking charge of a Manchester United team which will included Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Celtic and United are two of Miller and Keane’s former clubs.
He also played for Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers and Cork City among other clubs.
Miller won 21 caps for Ireland, scoring once, before his death in February aged 36. He is survived by his wife and three young children.