Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association has reportedly relented following considerable public pressure and will now allow a charity game for the family of the late Ireland, Manchester United and Celtic star Liam Miller to be played in one of its stadiums.
The GAA is an amateur sporting body, mainly concerned with the games of hurling and gaelic football. Its rule book says any property belonging to the association “shall be used only for the purpose of or in connection with the playing of the games controlled by the association, and for such other purposes not in conflict with the aims and objects of the association, that may be sanctioned from time to time by the central council”.
Rule 42, as it is commonly known, is regularly lifted to allow for pop concerts in GAA grounds and was notably lifted in 2007 to allow rugby and football to be played there while the Lansdowne Road ground was being renovated.
But the GAA refused permission for a benefit match for Miller’s family to be played at the 45,000 capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium in his native Cork.
The game between a Manchester United legends selection and a Republic of Ireland and Celtic legends side was instead booked for Turner’s Cross football stadium in Cork, which has a capacity of 7,500, on 25 September. Tickets sold out in minutes on Friday.
But the sport editor of Cork’s Evening Echo newspaper is now reporting the GAA has changed its mind and the game will move to the much larger Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Roy Keane, who will manage the Manchester United legends team in the match, told Irish national broadcaster RTE about the importance of the match.
“Liam was 36 with a young family. Unfortunately in sport we all get obsessed about winning and losing, contracts etc but the bottom line is your health is the most important thing,” he said.
Among the voices strongly criticising the initial decision to not allow its ground to be used for the Miller testimonial was an editorial in the Irish Times which said it was an “own goal” and an “embarrassment” for the GAA.
In his career, as well as playing club football with Manchester United and Celtic, Miller also played with Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers and Hibernian, with Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City in Australia, Aarhus in Denmark, Wilmington Hammerheads in the US and Cork City in the League of Ireland.