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Liam Miller match organisers hopeful of GAA agreement at end of saga

 

By Robert Jones

Organisers of the Liam Miller memorial match say they are hopeful of reaching an agreement with the GAA for the game to take place at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

The GAA's president and director general announced on Saturday that they would meet organisers of the football match in memory of the former Republic of Ireland player.

The former Manchester United, Celtic and Cork City midfielder died of cancer in February aged 36.

A charity match between a Manchester United legends team and a combined Celtic/Republic of Ireland side has been organised for September 25.

The match has now been scheduled for Turners Cross football stadium in Cork, which has a capacity of 7,500, after the GAA's Pairc Ui Chaoimh refused permission to use the park, a venue for Gaelic sports and the home of Cork GAA.

Pairc Ui Chaoimh's 45,000 capacity could have increased the funds raised for the family and charitable causes by an estimated €2m.

Rumours over the weekend suggested the game would go ahead at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, however Michael Flynn, one of the key organisers, said that no agreement had been made, and no meeting had taken place.

"I do indeed welcome the opportunity to sit down with them to discuss the chance of maybe holding the event at Pairc Ui Chaoimh," he said.

"But that's it. It's only a meeting. Those social media comments were completely and utterly wrong."

In a post on Saturday, the GAA's official Twitter feed read: "The GAA president and ard stiurthoir (director general), along with representatives of the Cork Committee, are to seek a meeting with the organising committee of the Liam Miller Tribute Match to discuss issues around the game."

It is hoped the meeting will take place as early as today.

Politicians like Micheal Martin and GAA players past and present have criticised the Association's stance, with the Gaelic Players' Association (GPA) also calling on chiefs to re-consider.

"We feel that the decision being taken doesn't align with our values as sportspeople and needs to be revisited," said the GPA.

The Association's ban on non-GAA games being played in their grounds was relaxed in 2007 to allow both football and rugby to be played in Pairc Ui Chaoimh while Lansdowne Road was redeveloped.

The park has also been used for other purposes such as concerts, with musician Ed Sheeran playing in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in May.

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