I’m a GAA supporter but I have never been as annoyed and ashamed by the association as I have been this week over the non opening of Pairc Ui Chaoimh for Liam Miller’s Tribute game.
Liam Miller was just a few days short of his 37th birthday when he passed away this year from Pancreatic Cancer – the worst form of the dreaded disease. He had a wife and three children. In the space of a few months their whole world was turned upside down by something they could not prevent.
Liam was a Cork lad and played soccer with some of the biggest clubs in the world; Celtic, Manchester Utd and Leeds Utd. He represented his country too. He also came home to Ireland and played for his local League of Ireland club Cork City too but in his youth he played Gaelic football. Like Kevin Moran, Shane Long, Niall Quinn, etc this talented GAA youngster found out he could carve a career out of soccer and that’s the path he chose.
Like most Irish people who live and work abroad Liam was proud of where he was from and Cork were so very proud of him. Actually Irish people were proud of him. As a Celtic supporter I was delighted when he played for the club. I followed him to Leeds Utd too (my dad’s club) and his goal against Southampton in a thrilling comeback by the Yorkshire side still lives in the memory of supporters.
Miller was so unassuming but for someone who wasn’t in the limelight much his death touched so many people. It was a case of “why do the good have to die young?” And “life can be so cruel.” You can now change that to why can the powers that be in the GAA be so cruel?
As someone who has been brought up in a GAA house I have loved the sense of community and the way the club is central in nearly every parish in the country. Where I live in times of trouble and need the GAA club are the ones that are there to lend a hand and offer support. That’s what makes it special but the hierarchy have severely damaged their own ethos by not allowing the Pairc to hold this tribute game.
On the GAA’s own website it says that the organisation “is part of the Irish consciousness and plays an influential role in Irish society that extends far beyond the basic aim of promoting Gaelic games.” It is meant to be community based so why not help the community of Cork and the Miller family in remembering a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, friend but most of all a proud young Corkman whose life was cruelly cut short.