Ex-Ireland captain Karl Mullen dies


The death has occured of former Irish rugby international and Ireland’s third Lions captain, Dr Karl Mullen. He was 82 year-of-age.

Dr Mullen played as front row forward and played club rugby for Old Belvedere RFC.

He won the first of his 25 Ireland caps as a hooker in 1947 against France and led Ireland to their first Grand Slam victory in 1948 when he was only 21-years-old.

Dr Mullen was the third Irish player to captain the Lions and led them when they toured New Zealand and Australia in 1950. He played in three tests against the All Blacks on a tour where the Lions wore red jerseys for the first time. They lost three matched and drew one in the test series.

Educated at Belvedere College and Royal College of Surgeons, Dr Mullen practised as a gynaecologist.

He passed away at his home in Kilcullen, Co Kildare, last night.

Grandfather to Irish showjumping international Cian O'Connor, Dr Mullen was described by the showjumper as "a wonderful man, a true gentleman to the end and a major influence on my career."

He said he would be remembered as "a sporting icon, one of the country's leading gynaecologists and a great family man."

"It is the passing of a true legend", Mr O'Connor added on his blog.

The Irish Rugby Football Union has extended its sympathies to the family of Dr. Karl Mullen.

IRFU President Mr. John Lyons said "He was one of the great heroes of Irish rugby and leaves a lasting legacy for his contributions as a renowned hooker for Old Belvedere, Leinster, Ireland and the Lions and also for his input after his distinguished playing days as a committed and enthusiastic administrator of the game."

"I had the privilege of playing for Bective Rangers against Karl and I witnessed at first hand his great leadership and skills on the rugby field. I extend the sympathies of Irish rugby to his family.”

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen said Mullen was a “trustworth and able” tactician

“A presence in Cardiff last month where he witnessed Ireland’s second Grand Slam, Karl Mullen who had a natural disposition to be encouraging to young players, must have been very pleased at the Irish team’s victory against Wales,” Mr Cullen said.

“A multifaceted individual, Mullen’s successes were not just confined to the sports field as he matched his sporting achievement with a fine career in medicine.

“Karl Mullen’s contribution to Irish sport has been immense and he brought great honour to himself and to his country. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends at this sad time.”