The GAA director general, Tom Ryan, has confessed that the organisation felt bullied into hosting the Liam Miller match in Pairc Ui Chaoimh last year.
The match, which featured Manchester United against Celtic/Republic of Ireland, was originally fixed for Turners Cross, the home of Cork City FC, the boyhood club of Miller.
However, given the level of response to the initiative, the GAA were asked to host the game at Pairc Ui Chaoimh which has a capacity of 45,000.
Weeks of controversy occurred before the game was finally fixed for the larger venue but many criticized the GAA for their hesitation in hosting the event.
In his first annual report, Ryan said that in doing so, the GAA broke their own rules, something he was very “uncomfortable” with.
“Much of the clamour that arose amounted to demands for us just to ignore own standards and indeed our decision makers. To ignore the rule or find a loophole and host the game.”
“So that is what we did, we found a way around our own rules. That is something I am still very uncomfortable with.”
Speaking this afternoon to RTE, Ryan maintained that he didn’t want to come across as “mean-spirited”.
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) January 30, 2019
“It was a charity venture, it was for a good cause. The GAA is a decent organisation and we were glad to play our part in that so I don’t want to appear mean-spirited.”
“But the process that we went through was difficult. ‘Bullying’ may be putting it a bit strongly but certainly we found ourselves with very few options at the time.”
“We have a track record of stepping up to the mark on events like this when required to do so and I think perhaps if the process had been a little bit different, we would have been able to prove that.”