There isn’t a person in Ireland who hasn’t been touched by cancer, the sadness many felt after the passing of Liam Miller may have felt irrational for people who had never met the man, and nevertheless hundreds of people took to social media to speak of their genuine devastation after his loss. A family man, a consummate professional, the best years of his life still to live, it was all snatched away by illness.
In tragedy often we see the best of human nature. A number of people have shown the incredible community spirit in Cork in recent months, by working hard to arrange a football match that will divert all proceeds to the wife of Liam Miller and his kids. He was one of their own, and that was reason enough to arrange this game.
Miller’s high standing among his peers meant attracting star names would not be a problem, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Denis Irwin and Rio Ferdinand are among the former football stars due to participate to raise funds for the family of their former team mate.
They’ll form a team of Manchester United legends that will face off with a team of Celtic and Ireland legends on the 25th September at Turners Cross. Organisers said they explored the idea of using Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the game and despite support from the Cork county board, this was not an option due to GAA rules which prevents soccer from being played at GAA venues. 7,000 fans will be on hand for the game at Turners Cross as opposed to the 45,000 capacity at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Rules are rules; they are there to be respected and must not be broken. This is how we are thought in life, in school, in sport. It’s later in life that you learn that some rules are senseless, as is any desire to respect them instead of changing them.
The indignation that has purveyed social media in recent days is not based around whether or not the rulebook should be respected but whether or not common sense can be used and exceptions can be made under exceptional circumstances. This is the very definition of an exceptional circumstance.
The situation does appear black and white, the GAA have rules that unfortunately prevent the staging of the Liam Miller tribute game at one of their grounds. In the American town of Mobile, in the state of Alabama, it is against the law to throw confetti or spray silly string. Just because you write this stuff down and enshrine it in the rules that govern the game shouldn’t mean you are bound to it ad eternum or even until the next chance you have to raise this at the GAA Congress.
What happens if the GAA decided to disregard the rule for the purpose of staging this match? What are the repercussions? Who will punish the GAA for acting with common sense and human decency? It's their rule, on this occasion it is at their discretion whether or not they abide by it.
Their rule seems to provide a loophole that could allow this match to be played without the approval of congress.
GAA RULE 5.1
“Uses of Property (a) All property including grounds, Club Houses, Halls, Dressing Rooms and Handball Alleys owned or controlled by units of 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.
Was this taken into account? If so who decided that this endevour was in conflict with the aims and objects of the GAA? Who wins from respecting this rule on this particular occasion? Liam Miller’s family certainly don’t win, the GAA don’t win, they are once again criticised for their inaction. It’s time the custodians of the game saw sense and took a practical approach to governance. By not letting this game be played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh they are not upholding the rulebook, they’re hiding behind it.