Peter O’Mahony joins a long list of Irish Lions captains

The Corkman becomes the latest Irish player to lead out the Lions for a Test match

Ciaran Fitzgerald with All Black’s captain Andy Dalton during the 1983 tour. Photo: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

1910 South Africa, Dr Tommy Smyth

Playing his club rugby with Newport and Malone, the forward won 14 caps for Ireland from 1908-1912. He led the Lions in two of the three Tests – they only took 26 players on that tour and wore dark blue jerseys – and with the Test series poised at 1-1, the tourists finally succumbed, having had to play most of the third Test with just 14 players.

1938 South Africa, Sammy Walker

Became the second Ireland prop to lead the Lions and once again the destination was South Africa. The Instonians forward won 15 caps for Ireland and played in two of the three Tests, with the Lions going down 2-1 in the Test series.

1950 New Zealand and Australia, Dr Karl Mullen

Ireland’s third Lions captain and yet again another frontrow forward; this time a hooker. He led Ireland to their first Grand Slam in 1948 as a 21-year-old and went on to win 25 caps for his country. Played in three Tests against the All Blacks on a tour where the Lions wore red jerseys for the first time. They lost three and drew one in the Test series.

1955 South Africa, Robin Thompson

Played for Queen’s University, Instonians and London Irish. Made his debut for Ulster as an 18-year-old and won the first of 11 caps for Ireland at 20. Following the Lions tour the secondrow moved to rugby league, playing for Warrington but his career was cut short by injury when just 25 years old. He played in three of the four Test matches for the Lions against the Springboks.

Dawson (left) and All Blacks captain Wilson Whineray lead out their teams before the first Test in 1959. Photo: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1959 New Zealand and Australia, Ronnie Dawson

Maintaining a proud record of Ireland frontrow forwards (the fourth) to captain the Lions, the Wanderers hooker led the team in six Test matches – a record later equalled by Martin Johnson – including a 2-0 series win over Australia having lost three Tests in New Zealand. Won 27 caps for Ireland from 1958-1964.

1968 South Africa, Tom Kiernan

The Cork-born fullback became the first Irish non-forward to captain the Lions. He won 54 caps for his country in a 13-year playing career, scoring 158 points before going on to be a highly influential and respected rugby administrator. He coached Munster to victory against the All Blacks in 1978. Scored 35 points in four Tests on the 1968 tour.

1974 South Africa, Willie John McBride

The Ballymena secondrow played 63 times for Ireland, 11 of them as captain, scoring his one try for his country in his final appearance, against France at Lansdowne Road in 1975: he also coached the national side. Played on five Lions tours, including the 2-1 series win over New Zealand (1971) and then led the 1974 Lions brilliantly, winning three of the Test matches and drawing the other. Gave so much to the Lions including the 99 call. The iconic Lion.

Willie John McBride leads out Lions during the 1974 tour. Photo: Allsport UK /Allsport

1983 New Zealand, Ciarán Fitzgerald

The hooker led Ireland to two Triple Crowns en route to winning 25 caps for his country and coining one of the most famous sporting exhortations ‘where’s your f****** pride?’

It was to prove a disappointing Lions tour as they lost the series 4-0 although they were competitive in all bar the last Test. Respected Ireland coach at Under-21 and senior level, amongst others.

2005 New Zealand, Brian O’Driscoll

Ireland’s leading try scorer had toured with the 2001 Lions to Australia before being made captain in 2005 under coach Clive Woodward. Lasted less than 90 seconds into the first Test; he was the victim of an illegal spear tackle that ended his tour, leaving him with a dislocated shoulder. He would go on to tour with the Lions to South Africa (2009) and Australia (2013) making it a remarkable four in total.

Things didn’t quite go to plan for Brian O’Driscoll during the 2005 tour. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

2009 South Africa, Paul O’Connell

He was chosen ahead of Brian O’Driscoll who captained Ireland to a Grand Slam that year and had led the Lions four years previously. O’Connell led the team with ferocious commitment and dedication and proved to be a hugely popular figure.

Really unlucky not to win the test series - they lost 2-1 to the Springboks - the Lions played a super brand of rugby and but for injuries would probably have returned home victorious.