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GAA to meet Liam Miller tribute organisers after outcry

Liam Miller Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Liam Miller died aged 36, leaving behind a young family

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) director general and president are to meet with organisers of the Liam Miller tribute match.

Liam Miller, a former Republic of Ireland international footballer, died of cancer in February aged 36.

A benefit match for the Cork man was hoped to be played at the 45,000 capacity Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium.

But the GAA said its rules prohibit games outside of its control in its grounds drawing widespread criticism.

However, the association's Cork County Board, which owns Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork city, are open to the idea, according to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ.

A short statement released on the GAA's official Twitter feed read: "The GAA President and Ard Stiúrthóir [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."

Earlier the Gaelic Players Association, which represents the interests of the players of Gaelic games, called on the GAA to make the stadium available.

"The contribution by the GAA and its members to the social fabric of this nation is second to none and we are proud of the part our players past, present and future have and will play in this.

"However we feel that the decision being taken here doesn't align with our values as sportspeople and needs to be revisited," it said in a statement on Twitter.

Currently, the match is due to be played at Turner's Cross football stadium in Cork, which has a capacity of 7,500, on 25 September.

On Friday the GAA said the "Cork County Committee and Central Council have no discretion in this matter".

"Only a change at Annual Congress can alter this situation. Congress takes place in February each year," it said.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Páirc Uí Chaoimh has a capacity of 45,000

Ex-Republic of Ireland player Roy Keane will manage a Manchester United Legends team against a combined Celtic/Ireland side for the testimonial game.

Former Ireland players Robbie Keane and Damian Duff are also expected to be involved.

What the GAA rules say:

The GAA rule book states that all 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".

In other words, they should be used only for Gaelic games, although critics point out that GAA stadiums are used for other purposes such as concerts.

However, the association's central council "has the power to authorise the use of Croke Park for games other than those controlled by the Association".

In 2007, the ban on so-called foreign sports being played in Croke Park - the home of Gaelic games - was changed to allow soccer and rugby to be played there.

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