Tributes paid to Liam Miller at benefit match in Cork
Former Celtic, Republic of Ireland and Manchester United players paid tribute to Liam Miller as a match held in his memory ended 2-2 at Pairc Ui Chaoimh before being settled by a penalty shoot-out.
Miller, who started his career with Celtic, joined United in July 2004 and also played for Hibs, died in February following a battle against pancreatic cancer aged 36.
The benefit match in support of Miller’s family and charities was given special permission by the Gaelic Athletic Association to be held at the Cork stadium.
Former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill, now in charge of the Republic of Ireland national team, was on the sidelines, while the likes of Johan Mjallby, Shaun Maloney, Paul Lambert and Stiliyan Petrov all started for the combined team.
The Manchester United XI included Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Louis Saha and Nicky Butt, while Roy Keane and Paul Scholes also featured.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off, with United eventually taking the lead through a penalty from Denis Irwin on 19 minutes.
Former France forward Saha made it 2-0 after 25 minutes following a pass from Giggs, before Robbie Keane reduced the deficit just before half-time.
Both sides made several changes following the restart, including the introduction of former United midfield enforcer Roy Keane, which saw Celtic play in a Republic of Ireland green strip.
Substitute Colin Healy grabbed an equaliser with 10 minutes left to send the match to penalties.
United, though, came out on top in the shoot-out, winning 3-2 when Dion Dublin slotted in after Robbie Keane, Andy Reid and Ian Harte had all failed to convert.
Speaking after the match, Miller’s Republic team-mate and friend John O’Shea, who played for the United XI, described it as a “brilliant game”.
He said: “I think when you see the turnout of the people, Liam’s family will really appreciate it as will everyone around Cork.
“The support they have given to this tribute for Liam has been amazing and to take part was a privilege.
“The other team gave me a bit of grief saying I should be playing for them in the second half but I did my best to try and help them with a couple of goals.”
Former United defender Neville said: “It’s an incredible stadium and an incredible turnout, it’s wonderful to see.
“I’ve never seen a pitch like it in my life, it was like a farmer’s field, it goes on forever. It’s absolutely huge, but it’s a good pitch and the stadium is fantastic, so many people here, it’s a great turnout.”
Irishman Reid, who kitted out for his country after retiring from professional football in 2016 said it was a “fun game”, adding: “It was good experience for everybody and we’re here to celebrate the life of Liam.
“All in all it’s been emotional day but it’s a great turnout and it was fun to be out there.
“It was difficult to get the ball back in midfield the second half but we got back in the game, we scored a couple of really good goals as well. It was a shame we couldn’t get the win.
“It’s not about what went on on the pitch it’s about the turnout from the players and the turnout of the fans and to celebrate Liam for his family as well.”