By Olivia Kelleher
The sale of 31,000 tickets for the Liam Miller benefit match in a single day is testament to the enormous esteem in which the former Republic of Ireland, Manchester United, Celtic and Cork City player was held, according to organiser of the event Michael O’Flynn.
The property developer, who is a neighbour of the Miller family, said he was ecstatic with the response from the public with 38,000 tickets now having been sold when the previous sale of 7,000 tickets for the initial match venue in Turner’s Cross are factored in.
Mr O’Flynn said that Liam hailed from a quiet unassuming family who were dealt an enormous blow with his passing from cancer earlier this year. He said the support for the match had helped the family hugely on their “extraordinary journey.”
“It (the support) is testament to Liam. When I set about arranging this and I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson initially and Roy Keane and Graham Barrett and John O’Shea every one of them were enthusiastic about doing it because of Liam. Because of the personality and the person.
“I couldn’t get over Sir Alex’s reaction when I met him first. He was absolutely positive from the word go.”
A few thousand terrace tickets remain on sale but they are expected to be snapped up in the next 24 hours. Mr O’Flynn has appealed to companies in Cork to give employees the opportunity to leave work for the match on September 25.
He said the ticket sales are an endorsement of their decision to move the match to a bigger venue.
Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn, has written to the Minister for Education asking for his permission to give school children in Cork a half day next month to coincide with the match.
The match is due to take place on a Tuesday at 3pm and the Lord Mayor says that it is important that children be given the opportunity to attend.
Cllr Finn said the strong sales highlighted and underlined the reason why organisers wanted to move the event from Turners Cross to Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Lines of people queued outside Supervalu branches in Cork yesterday morning to buy match tickets with the manager of one store joking that the city wouldn’t have a single person working in it on the afternoon of the big game.
Danny Comerford, Manager of Supervalu in Grange on the southside of Cork city, said they had “queues in the aisles when they put tickets on sale.”
“Nobody will be working in Cork on the day of the match. (The response) has been great.”
At Supervalu in Merchants Quay in Cork city fans also lined up in their droves to pick up the tickets.
Liam Corcoran from the Glen in Cork queued for over an hour to buy a wheelchair ticket for his daughter Amanda. He said that Amanda was a big Liam Miller and Manchester United fan. They missed out on the last round of tickets for Turner’s Cross.
The tickets.ie site crashed when it went online such was the demand for tickets. However, it was back live very quickly. Stand tickets sold out with great speed and the terrace tickets continued to sell solidly for the afternoon.
The match will see Manchester United Legends XI take on Celtic/Republic of Ireland legends. Proceeds will go to the family of Liam Miller, Marymount Hospice and other charities in the city.
The Manchester United legends team includes manager Roy Keane and former players Ryan Giggs, Louis Saha, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt.
The Celtic/Ireland legends line up managed by Martin O’Neill will feature amongst others Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, Neil Lennon, Kevin Kilbane and Richard Dunne.
At a press briefing last week Roy Keane said the match was an opportunity to honour Liam.
“Liam is still our teammate. And that is why the response has been fantastic. We are all looking forward to it.”
Liam passed away in February having fought a battle against oesophageal cancer.
He is survived by his wife Clare, his children Kory, Leo and Belle, his parents Billy and Bridie and his extended family.