Netizen 24 IRL: Liam Miller fought cancer with 'ferocity', funeral told

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Liam Miller fought cancer with 'ferocity', funeral told

Former Ireland, Manchester United, Celtic and Cork City player Liam Miller battled his cancer with the same tenacity he applied on the football pitch, mourners at his funeral were told.

Miller, who died last week at the age of 36, fulfilled his boyhood dreams by donning the soccer jersey during a career that gave great joy to many, mourners heard.

He was a family man who was “utterly besotted” with his wife Clare and the couple’s three young children, according to his brother-in-law Brian Sheedy.

Roy Keane (centre) and Martin O’Neill (right) arrive for the funeral of former Celtic    and Manchester United footballer Liam Miller, at St John the Baptist Church in Ovens, Co Cork. Photograph: Clare Keogh/PA Wire
Roy Keane (centre) and Martin O’Neill (right) arrive for the funeral of former Celtic and Manchester United footballer Liam Miller, at St John the Baptist Church in Ovens, Co Cork. Photograph: Clare Keogh/PA Wire

Miller, who was capped 21 times for the Republic of Ireland, died at Marymount Hospice in Cork city on Friday. Mr Sheedy spoke on Monday at his requiem Mass in St John the Baptist Church in Ovens, Co Cork.

Mr Sheedy said if he lived a dozen lifetimes he would not be “half the man” Miller was and that they were mourning an individual who was among “the best in the world.”

“There was never a father like Liam â€" he gave every ounce of himself to his children. Liam wanted to survive for his family. He was the bravest person I have ever known.”

Mr Sheedy said Miller was one of those rare people who realised all of their dreams. The tenacity seen in his sporting career was echoed in his final battle for life over his last months battling an illness with “ferocity,” Mr Sheedy said.

“Liam attacked his condition with a ferocity and a determination to survive it that is impossible to comprehend unless you saw it,” he said.

Mr Sheedy recalled that Liam’s father, Billy, used to call his son his “little Stanley Matthews”. Paying tribute to doctors at the Mercy University Hospital and Marymount Hospice for their kindness in recent months, he also thanked the community in Ovens for their warmth and generosity.

Former Celtic player and Scotland international Willie McStay said when Miller made his debut for the club he was composed, calm and assured from the start. Nothing seemed to faze him.

Parish priest in Ovens Fr Liam Hickey said Miller lived the dream of every young boy who has put on a football jersey.

“Liam used his talents to the full in such a short time. He gave so much joy to people and honoured the God who gave him those talents. He brought immense pride to his family and his home place.”

Fr Hickey recited the words of the footballing anthem “You will never Walk Alone” during the course of the Mass.

Shaun Maloney (left), Aiden McGeady (centre) and Martin O’Neill (second right) attend the funeral of former Republic of Ireland footballer Liam Miller, at St John the Baptist Church in Ovens, Co Cork. Photograph: Clare Keogh/PA Wire
Shaun Maloney (left), Aiden McGeady (centre) and Martin O’Neill (second right) attend the funeral of former Republic of Ireland footballer Liam Miller, at St John the Baptist Church in Ovens, Co Cork. Photograph: Clare Keogh/PA Wire
Republic of Ireland international John O’Shea and former manager Steve Staunton at Liam Miller’s funeral Mass in Ovens, Co Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Republic of Ireland international John O’Shea and former manager Steve Staunton at Liam Miller’s funeral Mass in Ovens, Co Cork. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Mourners included Republic of Ireland manager and assistant manager Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, aide de camps for the President and Taoiseach, Brian Walsh and Caroline Burke, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, FAI president John Delaney and former Ireland managers Steve Staunton and Brian Kerr.

Footballing names in attendance included Ireland and Sunderland players John O’Shea and Aiden McGeady, former Ireland and Manchester United player Denis Irwin and former international Kevin Doyle. The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, was among the celebrants at the Mass.

Miller was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery. He is survived by his wife Clare, his young children Kory, Leo and Belle, his parents Billy and Bridie and his extended family.

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