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Death of a true legend

Brian Mullins is still the only St Vincent’s man to bowl out a Test cricketer

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Niall Scully’s Herald report from 1991 as Brian Mullins, with the help of Pat Gilroy, steered St Vincent’s to victory over St Brigid’s in the Intermediate Championship final.

Niall Scully’s Herald report from 1991 as Brian Mullins, with the help of Pat Gilroy, steered St Vincent’s to victory over St Brigid’s in the Intermediate Championship final.

Niall Scully’s Herald report from 1991 as Brian Mullins, with the help of Pat Gilroy, steered St Vincent’s to victory over St Brigid’s in the Intermediate Championship final.

THE weather improved last Friday. And then, suddenly, it darkened again. As the evening shadows fell on Parnell Park.

It’s a place he knew well. From the days of the little pavilion, the cup of tea and a marietta biscuit.

Training with the Dubs. And settling down for another reading from the Gospel according to Kevin Heffernan. Brian Mullins was a captain in Heffo’s Army. A leader. In every way.

On Friday evening in Donnycarney, people remembered him fondly. With a tear in their eye. A smile. Playing with him. And against him. Sharing a few words. Remembering old battles. Great matches. Great days.

Across the way was his second home, Páirc Naomh Uinsionn. He spent so much time there – for the benefit of others.

He’d arrive on the bike. To manage teams. All sorts of teams – seniors, juniors, juveniles. He’d attend meetings. To nurture the next generation.

He was reared a couple of miles across the roof-tops. In Clontarf. He was an excellent rugby player. And a skilful cricketer. On his Saturday morning Sports show on NEAR FM, Fergus Carroll recalled one particular cricket match.

Fergus, who grew up on the same road as Brian, explained: “It was the All-Stars against a Radio/TV selection. You had people like Ollie Campbell, Tony Ward, Jim Draper, Dick Hooper, Fred Cogley, Roger Uttley and Henry Kelly.

“The former Indian test cricketer, Farokh Engineer, was at the wicket. Out came Brian to bowl. He produced a brilliant delivery to bowl him out. He’d often laugh about that day when I’d meet him. He’d quip: ‘Name the St Vincent’s man who bowled out a test cricketer!’”

Brian had the hands of the potter. Every pass had to stick. Every ball mattered. Reading the play. His fielding. Climbing to the clouds. Up there with the Gods.

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He was the master of his art. And he played the game like the way he lived his life. He just got on with it. Didn’t dwell on points scored or medals won.

It was always the next ball. The next match. It was never about the glory years of the Dubs. And the central role he played in it.

That was the poetry of another time. Brian always wanted to turn the page. Across the stepping stones of his journey. From Greendale in Kilbarrack to Donegal to UCD.

He called it as he saw it – to friend or foe. A straight bat. Like on the Castle Avenue carpet.

There was great warmth wrapped up in it all. A hidden kindness. He enjoyed good company. He had that glint of humour.

Over the weekend, one of his former pupils at Greendale recalled his days in school. Brian Mullins at the top of the class. A Dublin giant. Yet who always had time for the students.

Brian would always remember your name. And stop for a chat. “How are things going.”

He carried his greatness as lightly as his All-Ireland medals. And all his heroic achievements. In the last couple of days, so many people talked about how he recovered from the car crash on the Clontarf Road to help Dublin to win the All-Ireland.

That summed up his character. His resilience. Perhaps, that was his greatest feat of all.

Dublin winning that All-Ireland on a grey September afternoon – against the wind, and against the odds. Like Brian’s own comeback.

Brian’s daily cycle took him across town to Belfield. Where he was the Director of Sport. The job was the perfect fit.

Himself and Davy Billings brought so much to the campus. Their enthusiasm and wisdom inspiring all.

Sometimes on his break, Brian would join in in the five-aside football. Most of the students there probably didn’t know of the sporting deeds of the two St Vincent’s gents. And they weren’t going to be treated to interviews at the Belfield Bar.

As his former pupil remarked on Friday evening. “He was in a League of his own.”


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