President Higgins to attend Liam Miller tribute match in Cork
President Michael D Higgins is to attend the tribute match in honour of Mid-Cork man Liam Miller this month which will raise funds both for the late Mr Miller's family and a number of Cork charities, including Marymount Hospice where he passed away after a battle against cancer.
Chair of the Liam Miller Tribute Match organising committee Michael O'Flynn said the organisers were both delighted and honoured to learn that President Higgins had accepted an invitation to attend the game between a Manchester Utd Legends XI and a Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland selection.
"We're honoured that President Higgins will attend the game - it promises to be a unique sporting occasion here in Cork and to have President Higgins in attendance will be a fitting tribute to a great Cork sportsman who tragically passed away at such a young age," said Mr O'Flynn.
A spokesman for President Higgins confirmed that the president will attend the game on Tuesday week, September 25, which comes just a month and a day before he faces into a presidential election as he seeks a second term in Áras An Uachtaráin.
A keen soccer fan and former president of Galway Utd FC, President Higgins paid his respects to the late Liam Miller when the former Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic, Cork City and Republic of Ireland midfielder lost his battle with cancer last February at the age of just 36.
"It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Liam Miller, who brought skill and passion to his games, for the Republic of Ireland, Cork City, Celtic, Manchester Utd and other clubs. I send my condolences to his family and friends, and all those who love Irish sport," he said.
Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Mick Finn also welcomed the news that President Higgins is to attend the game, saying that it gives even greater status to something which has already caught the imagination of the Cork sporting public. "It's fantastic news that President Higgins is going to attend the game - the match really has now evolved into something very special for Cork and to have President Higgins in attendance gives it an even greater status - it promises to be a very special occasion for the Miller family and Cork."
The game, which was originally fixed for Turners Cross soccer ground, will take place at GAA HQ in Cork at Páirc Úi Chaoimh and some 45,000 tickets have sold out for the match with the proceeds going to Liam Miller's widow, Clare, and their three children and Marymount Hospice where he died.
Roy Keane will manage and play in a Manchester Utd Legends XI, featuring among others Ryan Giggs, Denis Irwin, Jaap Stam, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand against a Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland side managed by Martin O'Neill and featuring Robbie Keane, Damian Duff and Kevin Kilbane.
The game, which will be preceded by exhibition hurling and football games featuring children from Liam Miller's home GAA club, Eire Og, will be shown on Virgin Media Sport, with all advertising and sponsorship revenues from the game going to the Liam Miller tribute fund.