GAA felt 'bullied' over Liam Miller charity match says director general

Former Republic of Ireland, Celtic and Manchester United team-mates of Miller played in the benefit match for the late footballer.
A capacity crowd of 45,000 watched the Liam Miller tribute match at Pairc Ui Chaoimh

The GAA felt "bullied" into making Pairc Ui Chaoimh available for the Liam Miller tribute match last September, GAA director general Tom Ryan has said.

Ryan, who became GAA director general last March, criticises pressure exerted on the GAA during the saga in his annual report published on Wednesday.

"We felt we had been bullied into a course of action that we might well have taken anyway," said Ryan.

"I do believe the GAA was very badly served by much of the comment."

Initially, the GAA refused to make the Cork GAA stadium available for the charity game but following controversy, this decision was later reversed.

Cork native Miller, who had played GAA in his native city before his professional football career, died of cancer last February at the age of 36.

Capacity 45,000 crowd attended the game

A capacity crowd of 45,000 watched the match on 25 September as former team-mates of Miller's from Celtic, Manchester United and Celtic took part.

Ryan's report added: "I should preface my remarks with a reminder that the purpose of the game was charitable.

"All involved were doing things for the best of reasons and the main thing is that the Miller family benefited from the event. Everything else is secondary and any reservations I have about the episode should be seen in that light.

"The mechanics involved identifying a legal route, establishing independently its validity, and convening at two days' notice our voluntary Central Council from all around the country and overseas to a difficult meeting.

"I don't think any of us were enthusiastic about the outcome we reached.

"The overwhelming sentiment being that we felt we had been bullied into a course of action that we might well have taken anyway if given the chance.

"In hindsight we might have handled matters differently but I do believe that the GAA was very badly served by much of the comment at the time.

Tom Ryan succeeded Paraic Duffy as GAA director general last March
Tom Ryan says he did not blame the match organisers for the controversy

"It was consumed so much time and energy and yet was not an issue of our making.

"Frustratingly I still don't quite know how things got to where they did."

The GAA's director general made clear that he is no way blamed the Liam Miller game's organising committee for the controversy.

"Quite the opposite in fact. Events just seemed to take on a momentum of their own, with ever more influential people expressing ever more unhelpful and unsolicited views.

"There was an inference at the time that the GAA should be under some moral, if not legal, compulsion to allow the use of our pitches for other sports because the association, or the specific pitch, had received public funding.

"This not factually correct and is not morally defensible."

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