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Louth GAA legend Stephen Melia passes away

Stephen Melia in action for Louth against Offaly in the 2000 National Football League Division Two final

Stephen Melia in action for Louth against Offaly in the 2000 National Football League Division Two final

The death has occurred after illness of Louth GAA’s most capped player, Stephen Melia.

No one featured for the Wee County more in the county’s history than the towering midfielder, who made his debut in November 1984. He would remain part of the panel until early 2002, with his last appearance coming in July 2001.

Melia’s 17 years with Louth is a record shared with Michael ‘Muckle’ McKeown and Leslie Toal, one behind Benny Gaughran and two behind Eoin “Ine” Markey.

Throughout his 179 appearances, his greatest achievement was helping the county to Division Two league success against Offaly in 2000.

Twice named County Player of the Year, Melia started his playing career with the John Mitchels and was a key component to their 1992 junior championship success.

He later transferred to Dublin side O’Dwyer’s before joining St Joseph’s GFC in Dromiskin. While he kept his age a close secret, he was arguably one of the oldest players to win a Senior Championship medal when he lined out in midfield for the the Cluskey Park outfit in their 2006 County Final success over St Patrick’s GFC. It is believed he was in his mid-40s at the time.

Remarkably, Melia never played for the county at minor level but did represent Leinster numerous times in the Railway Cup.

Off the field, Melia featured as part of Paddy Clarke’s management team in 2000/2001 and under Eamon McEneaney in 2006 when the county clinched the Division Two league title against Donegal.

Commenting on his passing on Twitter this morning, St Joseph’s clubman Jonny McGailey said: “Gutted to learn of the passing of my former team mate, mentor and friend Stephen Melia. Words can’t describe how great he was. Gutted.

“An absolute warrior whose work ethic and leadership knew no bounds. One of the most inspiring and influential people I’ve ever known.”

St Joseph’s GFC tweeted: “Stephen Melia was not only a great player, but an even better person. A sad loss. Ar dheis de go raibh a anam.”

Funeral arrangements will be made later.

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