The most famous trophies in Ireland are the Liam McCarthy Cup for the All Ireland hurling champions and the Sam Maguire Cup for the football champions.

The two men they are named after died destitute, one of starvation, according to a 2010 report in the Sunday Independent.

Sam Maguire lost his British post office pension because of his IRA activities and died of starvation alone and forgotten in West Cork in 1927.

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Liam McCarthy was a founder member of the GAA but was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in London.

Only recently was a headstone erected.

"Liam McCarthy really helped the Irish in Britain. He was a brilliant man all round -- exceptional. He was a great Irishman, but he was not treated very well in his later years and he died in 1928 a poor man and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave," Joe McIntyre, life president of Dulwich Harps GAA club, said in 2010. 

"I particularly blame the GAA for this. The GAA never even put a headstone over his grave. There is no memorial for Liam McCarthy in Ireland."

Sam Maguire is an even more tragic figure.

He was 'head of intelligence' for the IRA, with an equal rank to Michael Collins in the organization.

He retired from the British Post Office in 1922 and came back to Ireland to join the new Irish civil service.

After the Civil War, he lost his job because he was on the wrong side. Then the British discovered his secret role as an IRA mole and they ended his pension.

Margaret Walsh, who has written Sam Maguire: The Enigmatic Man Behind Ireland's Most Prestigious Trophy, says that "what became of him was very sad".

"In 1924, he was sacked and deprived of his pension. They (the Irish Government) gave him £100 and that was it.

"In 1925, he came back to West Cork to live. He then developed TB and died in penury in 1927. They say that he died of a broken heart and penniless," she says.

*Originally published in September 2010. Updated in April 2023.