Sunday 16 December 2018

Revealed: Man United legends confirmed for Liam Miller tribute match in star-studded line-ups

Paul Scholes and Roy Keane are two of the Man United legends who will appear at the Liam Miller tribute match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Paul Scholes and Roy Keane are two of the Man United legends who will appear at the Liam Miller tribute match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ralph Riegel

A TRIBUTE match to the late Irish midfielder Liam Miller (36) will feature a galaxy of former Ireland and Manchester United stars, many of whom were his former teammates.

The line-up was confirmed today of those supporting the tribute match for the Cork-born father of three who lost a brave battle with cancer earlier this year.

Match organiser Michael O'Flynn was joined by Ireland's Assistant Manager and former Manchester United captain Roy Keane at a special press conference in Cork to confirm those who would be participating on September 25 at the Páirc Uí Chaoimh event. The match will boast two star-studded line ups with the Manchester United selection boasting many of the stars of the famous 'Class of 92' which underpinned the clubs success throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

The Manchester United XI will feature Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Ronny Johnsen, Paul Scholes, Denis Irwin, David May, Louis Saha, Rio Ferdinand, Quentin Fortune, Andy Cole, Michael Clegg, Mikael Silvestre, Kevin Pilkington, Dion Dublin, Roy Carroll, Gary Neville and Alan Smith.

The Ireland/Celtic side will feature David Forde, Stephen Carr, Kevin Kilbane, Richard Dunne, Kenny Cunningham, Keith Andrews, Kevin Doyle, Stephen McPhail, Andy Reid, Robbie Keane, Damian Duff, Lee Carsley, Colin Healy, Shaun Maloney, Paul Lambert, John Hartson, Neil Lennon, Stylian Petrov and Shane Supple.

Final arrangements are almost complete for the transfer of the Liam Miller tribute soccer match from Turner's Cross to Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork with an extra 38,000 tickets set to go on sale next week. It was confirmed the GAA are providing their ground for the fundraising soccer match without a rental charge. Match organisers agreed, following representations from clubs and the Lord Mayor of Cork Councillor Mick Finn, that some tickets will be offered at a special concession price of €10 for students and pensioners.

The 7,000 fans who purchased the original tickets for Turner's Cross will be transferred to the South Stand in the new €70 million Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Original ticket holders will be issued with a replacement pass from Ticketmaster in due course. Tickets will range from a €10 concession ticket and €20 for a terrace pass up to €90 for a premium level ticket.

Match tickets will go on sale at 10am on Monday, August 13. The match - between an Ireland XI and a Manchester United XI - will go ahead along with a special Gaelic games event at the new Cork GAA stadium.

"It was also agreed that the most suitable way to celebrate and recognise Liam’s involvement in GAA sport at a juvenile level is to have juvenile exhibition games, in both football and hurling, at half time involving young boys and girls from Liam’s club Éire Óg," Mr O'Flynn said.

Proceeds from the day, which is expected to attract a sell-out 45,000 crowd, will go to the Liam Miller fund, Marymount Hospice in Cork and several Cork charities to be nominated by the match organisers. It is expected that these will include charities which work with injured or ill GAA stars.

However, the GAA will not be involved in any aspect of the event finances. Mr Miller (36), a former Cork City, Ireland, Manchester United and Celtic star, died last February after a brave battle with cancer, leaving a wife and three young children. The go-ahead for the Liam Miller match came after special Central Committee and Management Committee meetings of the GAA two weeks ago.

That followed a key meeting at Croke Park between GAA chiefs and the Miller match organisers, including Cork developer Michael O'Flynn, aimed at ending the controversy over the GAA's initial refusal to allow the game go ahead at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Mr O'Flynn, who is from the same Ovens parish as the late Liam Miller and is a member of the footballer's old GAA club, Éire Óg, paid tribute to the GAA for the compromise which allows the tribute match switch from the 7,500 capacity Turner's Cross soccer stadium to the 45,000 capacity new GAA facility.

The difference in potential revenues is now expected to be €2 million compared to €350,000.

"We are doing everything we can to put those extra tickets into the market and we are hoping that the public support it."

Mr O'Flynn also warned that a gala tribute dinner in Cork is already sold out such was the enormous demand for tickets.

"It is a total sell-out - every single day the waiting list is being added to," he said.

 Mr O'Flynn again paid tribute to the GAA for facilitating the tribute match at Cork GAA headquarters.

"It is a great decision and on behalf of everyone involved, the family in particular, the committee and the public at large who have come out in such great numbers, I just want to welcome the decision and, you know, I must compliment the GAA for sitting down and reassessing the whole situation and coming to this decision," Mr O'Flynn said.

"I think it is a really important one and it (September 25) will be a great afternoon for Cork and for sport."

The soccer match originally sold out in less than two minutes but Cork City's Turner's Cross home only has a capacity of just over 7,000. An initial request by the match organisers for Páirc Uí Chaoimh to be used as a venue was rejected by the GAA. Pressure had intensified on the GAA to sanction a compromise with Cork politicians, church leaders, councils and even GAA clubs backing the use of Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the fund-raising event.

Cork City and County Councils backed calls for the soccer match to be allowed at Cork GAA headquarters. Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Bishop of Cork & Ross Dr John Buckley also backed the use of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Dr Buckley, a renowned GAA fan, said he believed the overwhelming view in Cork and Ireland was that the match should be allowed.

Ireland South MEP and former GAA President Sean Kelly had publicly called for "common sense, generosity and the true spirit of sport to prevail."

High-profile GAA stars including Joe Brolly, Billy Morgan and Teddy McCarthy warned there was absolutely no reason why the Cork GAA stadium should not be provided for the Liam Miller tribute. A key criticism of the initial GAA stance was that it received €30 million in public funding towards the €70 million cost of redeveloping Páirc Uí Chaoimh - and the funding was provided on the basis the stadium would be available for other community events. The Government bluntly warned the GAA it believed the refusal to allow the Miller tribute match to be staged at the GAA stadium represented a breach of the spirit of that agreement.

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