1962 county champions are finally rewarded
VICTORY has never tasted so sweet for the members of a GAA team who finally received their championship medals after a wait of almost 50 years.
But for Liam McGowan, a midfielder on the 1962 Melvin Gaels team, justice has finally been done.
The Leitrim side became embroiled in the longest-running dispute in the history of the GAA over the 1962 senior county football championship.
Although the Kinlough-based Melvin Gaels beat Aughavas in the final, the competition was declared void following an objection by semi-finalists Ballinamore, who had failed to show up, allowing Melvin Gaels to progress.
Ballinamore claimed they had not been notified of the semi-final date and venue. Objections and counter-objections finally prompted a frustrated Leitrim County Board to declare the championship void, leaving Melvin Gaels empty-handed.
Last year, the controversy was re-opened when they persuaded the Connacht Council to declare them the valid 1962 champions. And finally, last week Leitrim County Board accepted the ruling and the team was presented with medals at a function in Bundoran, Co Donegal.
"It's really lovely to know that after so long things are put right. We won the title fair and square and the dispute should never have happened," said Mr McGowan, a retired school principal. "I think the players are very pleased that at last justice is done."
But not all of the team of 1962 could attend the presentation. Two have since died and others were unable to travel due to illness or other commitments.
Mr McGowan acknowledged the contribution of Ballinamore to the final resolution by not lodging an objection to the Leitrim County Board.
His medal will now occupy a place of honour in his Kinlough home.