Few trophies are as well-travelled and recognisable as the Sam Maguire Cup, but it appears as if some supporters were hoodwinked into parting with cash to have their pictures taken with an imposter outside Croke Park earlier this month.
Fans attending the pair of Allianz League football semi-finals between Kerry-Roscommon and Dublin- Donegal were reportedly duped by a couple of scam artists who, masquerading as Croke Park employees, agreed to accept money for a quick snap. An eyewitness account suggested the individuals were moved on by gardaí at one point whilst in the vicinity of the stadium, but the incident was not included in the routine debriefing meeting that takes place between gardaí and the GAA after every game at HQ.
It is not known how many unofficial such trophies may be in existence.
There is at least one pub in the country which owns such a model, but the cost of producing a replica is believed to be significant and the chances of achieving anything like an exact match rather low.
“I have anecdotally heard of one incident that happened in Temple Bar last summer,” said GAA head of media relations Alan Milton yesterday. “I didn’t witness it myself, but I did get a call about it. It’s very rare, to be honest. I could probably count the incidents on one hand. It is actually very expensive to get something like that (made) and we’ve never had an official complaint from any members of the public about something like this and we haven’t heard anything about this from the gardaí since.”
There are actually three ‘official’ Sam Maguires: the original, which is very fragile and locked away behind glass in the museum where a second is also kept, and then the third, which is presented to the All-Ireland champions every year.
Mickey Harte has gone on record before as saying only teams playing Division One football in the spring can hope to claim that particular prize come September, but the Tyrone manager was less emphatic about that declaration yesterday when reminded of it. Harte’s Tyrone take on Cavan in the Allianz League Division Two final Sunday and he made the point he doesn’t believe his side to be “a Division Two team” when asked if they could bridge the gap with the top tier’s best this summer.
“It all depends on (how) you interpret what I said,” he explained when appraising their All-Ireland chances. “I said a Division Two team won’t win an All-Ireland. You could have a team playing in Division Two, but not of Division Two standard.”
Tyrone are likely to be without some valuable assets due to injury, goalkeeper Niall Morgan (broken hand), defender Ronan McNabb (cruciate), the versatile Peter Harte (AC joint) and forward Darren McCurry (ankle). Morgan, for one, is also a doubt for their Ulster opener against Derry.
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