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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Bhoys hero Brown makes Miller gesture

Celtic skipper to give part of testimonial proceeds to late midfielder's family

Tribute: Celtic captain Scott Brown
Tribute: Celtic captain Scott Brown
Sadly missed: The late Liam Miller, pictured here in action for Ireland against Celtic for Jackie McNamara’s testimonial at Celtic Park back in May 2005. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile

No points at stake of course. but there will be emotion in the air when Ireland head for Scotland to play Celtic in a testimonial for Scott Brown in May.

An already-busy international calendar for the Republic of Ireland now has another fixture squeezed in as an Ireland XI will play Celtic in a tribute game for Hoops captain Brown, on Sunday May 20th.

The value of a testimonial for still-active, and financially-healthy players has been downgraded of late, but news that part of the proceeds from the Brown game will go to the family of the late Liam Miller is a nice touch from Brown.

Miller and Brown never played together but the Corkman, who tragically died from cancer last month, is highly-regarded at Parkhead and Brown, who joined the Bhoys three years after Miller's exit, was eager to note Miller's passing and make a financial contribution to the young family left behind by Miller's passing.

Tribute

There will also be emotion for Martin O'Neill: the last time the Ireland national team played in a fixture like this was the Jackie McNamara testimonial in 2005, O'Neill's final game in charge of the Bhoys.

For his part, the game is a deserved tribute to Brown, according to his club. "He is highly-deserving of this honour and I am sure our supporters will be keen to join the club and the Irish national team in celebrating such a great career," said club CEO Peter Lawwell.

"It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Scott during his time at the Club. He is a man who has given his heart and soul to Celtic and been such a pivotal figure for the club for more than a decade."

The timing of the Celtic game is not too ideal for Ireland as many key players will not be available to Martin O'Neill for the May 20th fixture. If Southampton get past Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final next month, Shane Long would be absent for Ireland as the Saints would play in the final on the eve of Brown's testimonial.

The regular Championship (and League One) season wraps up on May 6th, so players from clubs not involved in the play-off process will be cleared to play, but the playoff final takes place on May 27th, and there will almost certainly be some Irish involvement.

As it stands, Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Scott Hogan, Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Richard Keogh and Alex Pearce (Derby) and Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough) would take part in the play-offs but Bristol City, Preston and Sheffield United, who between them have six Ireland players involved, are also in the frame.

The play-off situation in League One could also cause issues for Blackburn duo Derrick Williams and Darragh Lenihan.

But with no competitive game until September, O'Neill now has a third game, the Celtic one, to try things out (tests against France and the USA follow), Parkead in May a chance to experiment: as happened in the past, when Brian Kerr played a weakened Ireland XI in McNamara's game in 2005, four days before a World Cup qualifier against Israel.

And don't bet against another appearance in green and white from Robbie Keane.

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