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Happy ending Meath GAA star Martin O'Connell's 'priceless' stolen All-Ireland medal recovered

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

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Former Meath footballer Martin O’Connell at the opening of the Hall of Fame at the GAA Museum in Croke Park

Former Meath footballer Martin O’Connell at the opening of the Hall of Fame at the GAA Museum in Croke Park

Former Meath footballer Martin O’Connell at the opening of the Hall of Fame at the GAA Museum in Croke Park

The All Ireland Senior Gaelic Football final medal belonging to Meath star Martin O'Connell which was stolen in a burglary at his parents' home has been recovered. 

It was found in Dublin earlier today and has been returned to the owner, according to Gardai.

GAA legend O'Connell had launched an appeal for the return of his treasured medal that was taken from his parents' house in Staholmog near Carlanstown last Tuesday evening.

He won the medal in 1987 when the Royals beat Cork.

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

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Meath Football Legend Martin O Connell. Pic Seamus Farrelly

Meath Football Legend Martin O Connell. Pic Seamus Farrelly

Meath Football Legend Martin O Connell. Pic Seamus Farrelly

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 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, had said he was “devastated” at its disappearance.

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

"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.”

“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.

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“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.

“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.”

As well as the medal, his 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," said O'Connell in the wake of the incident.

A Gardai spokesperson thanked everybody who helped to share their appeal, they said: "The publicity in this case directly resulted in the medals recovery."

Kells Gardai are still investigating the break-in.

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

He 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.

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