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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 14 October, 2019

'I've never seen such a good turn-out of players... that tells you what everybody thinks of Liam'

Denis Irwin, Gary Neville and John Hartson reflect on today’s Liam Miller memorial match in Cork.


Paul Dollery and Eoin Lúc Ó Ceallaigh report from Páirc Uí Chaoimh

FORMER TEAM-MATES HAVE been paying tribute to Liam Miller following the match that took place this afternoon in memory of the late Ireland midfielder.

A crowd of 42,878 turned out at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork for a game which saw former stars from Manchester United take on a team of ex-Republic of Ireland and Celtic players.

The sides were level at 2-2 after 90 minutes but United clinched a 3-2 victory in the penalty shootout that followed, Dion Dublin converting the decisive spot-kick.

Yet as John Hartson pointed out, the outcome was secondary on a day when a substantial sum of money was raised for Liam Miller’s family and several charities, including Marymount Hospice, where Miller lost his battle with cancer in February.

Hartson, a cancer survivor himself, played alongside Miller at Celtic. A knee problem prevented the ex-Wales international from taking part in today’s game, although he attended nevertheless to show his support.

The Celtic  Ireland team The Republic of Ireland/Celtic legends team this afternoon at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The result was irrelevant,” Hartson said. “It was all about Liam, Liam’s family and the beneficiaries. It was a great day. Everybody loved it and the fans were brilliant.”

It was perhaps fitting that the first goal in a soccer match played at the home of Cork GAA was scored by a local. Togher’s Denis Irwin gave United the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th minute.

He said: “It was a good occasion, a good game and a great crowd turned out. So many great ex-players gave their time up for a very good cause. Hopefully it’s been a good day and everybody’s enjoyed it.”

When he made his Premier League debut for the club in August 2004, Liam Miller linked up with Gary Neville on the right-hand side for Manchester United in a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Manchester United team The Manchester United legends team. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The game was about paying tribute to Liam Miller,” said Neville, who was one of 12 Champions League winners who featured this afternoon. “It showed that he’s so popular in his home city and obviously with all the team-mates he played with as well. We put on the best show we possibly could on what is a very big pitch.”

Neville added: “Over the last seven or eight years I’ve seen quite a few of these sorts of testimonial games, but I’ve never seen such a good turn-out of players come for somebody, and that obviously tells you what everybody thinks of Liam.”

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Paul Dollery

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