A LIMERICK winners’ All-Ireland Senior Championship medal has sold at 60 per cent above its guide price during a June Bank Holiday weekend auction.
The medal, dating from Limerick’s only ever All-Ireland Senior Football Championship win of 1897, was estimated to fetch a maximum €20,000, but when the hammer fell it had made an impressive €32,000.
It was part of an interesting collection of sporting memorabilia put up at a sale by Fonsie Mealy’s Auction House in Dublin.
In the GAA’s first All-Ireland Final, Limerick Commercials defeated Dundalk Young Irelands of Louth (1-4 to 0-3) at The Big Bank in the then remote Clonskeagh area of Dublin.
The nine-carat gold medal in question was won by midfielder Jeremiah Kennedy.
No doubt there are still relatives around of those who featured in that early GAA victory. The squad included the aforementioned Kennedy, Denis Corbett, Tim Fitzgibbon, William Gunning, Richard Breen, John Hyland, Thomas McNamara, William Spain, Pat Corbett, Michael Slattery, Michael Casey, James Mulqueen, Malachi O’Brien, Patrick Kelly, Tim Kennedy, Philip Keating, William Cleary, Robert Normoyle, Pat Reeves, Thomas Keating, Tom McMahon, Ned Nichola, Ed Casey, Richard O’Brien, James Purcell, Tom O’Loughlin, and Thomas Lynch.
O’Brien was the star of the show in those olden times. That Commercials didn’t have any follow-up success on the national stage due to the emigration of so many of the team. Spain, however, did help Dublin to annex the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship of 1889 before he too left for America.
Bizarrely, the actual 1887 medals weren’t presented until 1910. “The first 25 years of the GAA were a bit all over the place,” explained George Fonsie Mealy, who curated the sale.
“Then they had to contend with the first World War, mass emigration, and Bloody Sunday, which makes medals from this time extremely rare.”
Limerick have never scaled such heights since, expect for a few appearances in Munster Finals, the most recent of which was against eventual All-Ireland champions Kerry last Summer.
At underage level, Limerick have won both Munster Minor (1956) and Under-21 (2000) provincial championships, but never scaled the ultimate summit.