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Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Cavan GAA legend Mick Higgins dies at the age of 87

Mick Higgins
Mick Higgins won three All-Ireland senior football medals

Cavan's 1952 All Ireland winning captain Mick Higgins has died at the age of 87.

The Cavan great won three All Ireland medals, including one from the famous Polo Grounds final in 1947 when the Breffni Blues beat Kerry in New York.

Higgins, whose other All-Ireland win came in 1948, was the last surviving member of the Cavan side of 1947.

He was born in New York and returned to his mother's home town of Kilnaleck in county Cavan at five years of age.

Higgins played in his first Ulster Championship match against Monaghan in 1943 and he clinched his first senior provincial medal in the same year.

Four years later, the Cavan team flew to New York via the Azores for the historic battle for Sam Maguire against the Kingdom.

The game was played in New York to honour the memory of the Irish abroad on the centenary of the height of the Irish famine.

The Cavan team travelled by air and while the trip took 30 hours, it was a lot shorter duration than the Kerry squad's journey to the US by Ocean Liner.

"There was no huge send-off for us in Cavan, but both teams got a good reception in New York when we arrived," recalled Higgins in an interview last year.

"I remember the team stayed in the Commodore Hotel, but I stayed with my relatives."

Around 30,000 spectators watched the game and Higgins recalled the "oppressive heat" at the Polo Grounds.

Higgins and his teammates returned home to a heroes' welcome after a voyage aboard the Queen Mary.

"It was only after we arrived in Southampton that we realised the joy of it all," recalled Higgins.

"Large numbers of Cavan people turned up to see us in London and Birmingham. We were treated like kings in Cavan."

After retaining the title in 1948 by defeating Mayo, Cavan aimed for a three-in-a-row a year later but they were beaten by Meath in the decider.

However, Cavan, skippered by Higgins, got revenge over their neighbours three years later in the All-Ireland decider.

Cavan haven't appeared in an All-Ireland senior final since 1952.

He continued his involvement in the GAA after his playing days and his other great sporting passion was greyhound racing, where he became a successful trainer.

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