Sam Maguire And The Sam Maguire Cup - Who Was Sam?
Name: Sam Maguire Born: 1879 Died:1927
Place Of Birth: Mallabraca, Dunmanway, Co. Cork
Denomination: Church of Ireland
Parents: John & Jane Maguire
Family: Willie was the ldest - then Mary, Jack, Dick, Paul, Sam and Elizabeth.
Boyhood:Grew up on 200 acre family farm (only 70 arrable acres) outside Dunmanway and went to The Model local Church Of Ireland National School and later to Ardfield National School.
Sam's parents were not disposed to gaelic games but at Ardfield National School gaelic football was very prominent and this most likely had a great early influence on Sam.
Emigration: In the Ireland of the second half of the 19th century, emigration always loomed for young men and Sam Maguire in preparation for his own emigration decided to sit the Post Office Examination in 1899.
Shortly after he left his native land to seek his fortune in London after completion of schooling and obtained work at the G.P.O. sorting office in London. In London he would later meet up with Clonakilty's famous son, Michael Collins.
Nationalist Asssociation: In London Sam's rebel blood came to the surface and he soon joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and later the Gaelic League. He was instrumental in persuading Michael Collins to join the I.R.B. and in 1909 Collins made that historic decision.
Michael Collin's Influence: Collins quickly realised that he had a fellow Corkman that he could confide in and Sam was ideally placed in the sorting office to become a key intelligence officer for the I.R.B.
After many intelligence coups masterminded by Sam, he became a Lieutenant General and a key member of the London branch of the I.R.B.
His secretive work within the I.R.B. sometimes necessitated Sam travelling to Dublin on the overnight ships crossing the Irish sea to Dublin and Sam's mission was to migrate secret information to the Dublin bureau of the I.R.B. This secret information was classified and was very significant to Dublin. On completion of his spy missions Sam would return to London that same evening to continue his missions.
Sam's undercover work finally came under severe scrutiny and the assasination of one Sir Henry Wilson in Belgravia, London gave rise to the British Authorities that there was an internal spy in their ranks. In early 1921 Sam made a hasty exit from the English capital when his employers were just about to noose him for his political activities. Certain records even state he was arrested on English soil and imprisoned for his spying missions but that has never been confirmed.
Michael Collins had arranged a senior position for Sam at Dublin's G.P.O. on his return to Ireland but when Collins was ambushed and killed in August 1922, Sam had lost a comrade and a very dear friend. Somewhat like Michael Cusack who left his own fledgeling association soon after foundation because of conflicting views, Sam also had a stern mind about the new Irish Post Office set up maintaining former ideals of the British and his superiors decided he should go.
He was paid a princely severance package of £100; forfeiture of all pension rights and ostracised by goverment officials. This saga finally led to his health decline and he made a decision to return to his Cork home at Dunmanway, and all the many dangerous deeds he carried out in the name of Ireland were now buried by the Irish government.
Sporting Legacy: On arrival in London as a green eyed Irish boy, he made his way to the London Hibernian's Club under the influence of Michael Collins. He possessed a natural football talent and blossomed into a fine player and was chosen to play for the London exile team. He played in two All Ireland football finals representing London and lost both.
His work as a G.A.A. officer in London was notable and he assumed the role of Chairman of the emigrant board and was also appointed London's Congress representative. Amongst his many exile companions he kept great company with a son of Irish emigrants, Liam McCarthy.
Sam Maguire Cup!
In 1928 shortly after Sam's death from Tuberculosis, a group of his Dublin friends formed a committee to raise funds for a permanent commemoration of his his name. They decided on a cup to be presented to the G.A.A.
The G.A.A. were proud to accept it as Sam Maguire was very important in the War Of Independence and he was the only Protestant to captain a team in an All Ireland senior football final.
Sam's noble and patriotic deeds were also a source of great pride to his own people in Dunmanway.
The G.A.A. accepted the generous offer of a Sam Maguire Cup to preserve and honour the memory of a famous gael and also his noble deeds in Ireland's fight for freedom and hence the history of the famed Sam Maguire Cup.
Kildare were the first winners of the Sam Maguire Cup on 30th September 1928 beating Cavan 2 - 6 to 2 - 5.
A replica Sam Maguire Cup was presented to Mick Lyons of Meath in 1988 following the replayed All Ireland final against Cork.
Sam Maguire is buried at St. Mary's Protestant Cemetry in Dunmanway, Co. Cork, and the burial spot is marked by a headstone and cross erected by the G.A.A.
A new visitor centre - Sam Maguire Homestead, also commemorates Sam's memory in Dunmanway.