Meath GAA star 'devastated' by theft of All Ireland medal appeals for its return

Meath GAA star Martin O’Connell is appealing for the return of his treasured 1987 All-Ireland gold medal that was stolen in a burglary in his parent’s home in Staholmog near Carlanstown on Tuesday evening.

The three-time All-Ireland winner’s elderly parents Marie (84) and Paddy (91) were in the house at the time of the break in that occurred around 6.30pm. They were not aware of intruders.

A Golden Jubilee medal was also among the items stolen which is said to be of huge sentimental value.

Sporting legend, O’Connell, who had had the solid gold medal placed on a chain for his proud mum Marie to wear to display her son’s outstanding achievement, and who was hoping to pass the historic medal on to his 26-year-old daughter Jane, says he is “devastated” at its disappearance.

He added: “It’s devastating, it’s only really when you get to my age you really appreciate their worth.

“When you are playing and win them you think nothing of them but they mean a lot more to you when you are finished.”

The medal is distinctive and should be easily recognizable to anyone who may be offered it for sale according to the proud Meath man who said:

“It’s a solid gold medal well engraved with a Celtic cross on it and an Mhi 1987 All Ireland is stamped on the back so it should be recognised very handy if someone is trying to sell it.

“I don’t know how much it is worth but it is priceless to me.

“I gave my mother my first All Ireland medal as a birthday present probably about 20 years ago.

“I put it on a gold chain and gave it to her as a present to wear on special occasions and going to different functions.”

“My mother is really devastated as well because it was put on a gold chain and she had only said to me the other day I must give you back that medal to give to Jane, my daughter.

“That’s annoying my mother as well and annoying me a bit too.”

Martin describes what happened on the evening of the burglary.

“Last Tuesday evening they broke in a window and my mother and father were in the house, they were in the kitchen and they broke in a front room window and went down to her room and took all the gold things belonging to her.

They took my All Ireland medal, her mother’s wedding ring, a watch, all her earrings, everything gold was taken.

“It happened about 6.30pm and by 6.55pm the house phone rang and my mother got up out of the kitchen to answer the phone and she didn’t notice anything, everything was done and dusted at that stage.

“It was only when my brother came back and noticed a bit of muck outside the house where they were after getting in and he went up to his room and noticed his press was wide open and five jackets belonging to him were taken and that’s when he knew there was something wrong.

“He went down to my mother’s room where everything was thrown around and the presses were ransacked.

“Blood, sweat and tears went into getting that medal, it’s a horrible feeling but hopefully it might turn up somewhere

“Hopefully someone with some common sense might just leave it somewhere or drop it back.”

O'Connell played for Meath for 13 years winning six Leinster SFC titles, three NFL crowns, three All-Irelands and three All stars and he was also named on the GAA Football team of the Millennium.

O'Connell won the last of his three All-Ireland SFC medals in 1996 when he was also named the Texaco Footballer of the Year. He played his final championship game for the Royals against Kildare in 1997 before retiring from the inter-county scene in 1998.

Gardaí in Kells are investigating the incident.

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