Wednesday September 17 2008
THE Sam Maguire has undergone its first "major" clean-up operation in 20 years, ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland Final between Tyrone and champions Kerry.
Gaelic football's greatest prize has been up on blocks for the last four weeks in the care of its creator, master silversmith Des Byrne.
According to Des: "There was a huge amount of wear and tear on it."
"Nickey Brennan, the GAA president, wanted all the association's cups to look their best, and, after 20 years of doing the rounds, the Sam Maguire certainly needed refurbishment," he added.
The cup, which weighs more than 8.5kg and measures 17-inches in diameter, is based on the design of the 8th century Ardagh Chalice.
Des made the replica of the original 1927 cup at his Hand Wrought Silver studios in Kilkenny city in 1988 .
"It was certainly the biggest and heaviest cup I have ever worked on," Des said.
"And the bigger a piece is the more prone it is to damage," he added.
Silversmith Dave Byrne who helped in the clean up of the Sam Maguire, and also worked on it in 1988 , said the trophy had "definitely been knocked about a bit".
"We put a good four weeks into bringing it back to an as-good-as-new condition," explained Dave.
"It really takes a lot of wear out there but I suppose it's the people's cup at the end of the day," he said.