Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 22 October 2018

Family ready to auction off rare first All-Ireland medal

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

AN All-Ireland football medal from the first final ever played in 1887 is to be auctioned by the family of the medal winner.

Malachi O'Brien, known as 'The Little Wonder', was a renowned player with Limerick Commercials who beat Dundalk Young Irelands in the first final in Clonskeagh almost 118 years ago.

O'Brien's medal was the prized possession of his grand nephew, Matthew Malachy Doran, who died in Northampton last year.

Now his family are keen to put the medal, one of the very few from that game thought to be in circulation, up for auction.

They have been in touch with the GAA who would like to place the medal on exhibition. But the Doran family have their sights set on a sale and say the sporting memorabilia section of Sotheby's have expressed an interest.

Malachi O'Brien's great grand niece Mary Doran said they have thought about making contact with an Irish-based auctioneering firm to execute a sale.

"It's a gold medal. We believe it is one of very few from that game which is in circulation," she said. 'The Little Wonder', who played all his life with Commercials, was reputedly 'man of the match' in the 1887 final.

From the parish of Emly on the Limerick/Tipperary border he spent some time living in Dublin before moving to America.

The Doran family retain newspaper cuttings of their great grand uncle's feats on the football field.

"The medal was my father's prized possession. He died last year and now we are considering putting it up for auction," said Mary Doran.

The winning medal has the potential to reach a tidy five-figure sum and may even go higher because of its rarity.

The success of Commercials in 1887 was one of the only two All-Ireland senior football successes Limerick have enjoyed.

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