Real McCoys: The men’s men of the GAA
The epitomy of quiet Kilkenny excellence and a man who hurled for the county at a time when a few others sides were a step ahead of the Cats. The red-headed farmer still managed to snaffle four All-Irelands in his inter-county career and if there was a braver and more determined player in that Kilkenny team we would like to meet them.
Power backed up his bravery with tremendous skill and he scored many vital goals for Kilkenny from the centre-half-forward slot. Known as The Fox he didn’t look very formidable but he would run at, and fell most defenders, even those twice his size.
The Meath team Sean Boylan constructed may have been the manliest team ever to run out on a football field. They were so intimidating their legend lives on more than 20 years after their finest days. But Lyons, their granite-hard full-back, probably takes the cake for the toughest of the lot.
His battles with players from Cork, Dublin and even Australia are legendary but his ability to field balls and burst from defence was the rock on which Boylan’s team’s won so much.
And like the very best GAA stars, he had a song written about him, the epic The Night Mick Lyons Came To Town. In the video you see the famous punch he took from Cork’s Colm O’Neill. He barely flinched. We don’t need to tell you how most modern players would react.
The template for the modern GAA player. Obsessive in his preparation off the field and focused like a laser off it he brought a fierce intensity to the world of Gaelic Games. But it is a testimony to how much of a man’s man he is that even years after his retirement he can get away with a haircut that most Premier League footballers would think twice about.
As his famous quote goes “If you wanna box say you wanna box and we’ll box; if you wanna play football, say you wanna play football and we’ll play football.” Not a man to be messed with.
Talk about suffering for your cause. The St Martin’s man toiled with the Wexford senior hurlers for 17 years, and only in his very last year did he get his hands on a Celtic Cross. And it was those gnarled hands that tell the story of his hurling career. Battered, bruised and twisted into all sorts of shapes after years of service for his county, he persevered to help the Model finally land the big one.
The man himself, George O’Connor
Now director of hurling in the county, he is preparing the next generation. Plus, only a man’s man could grow a ’tache like George’s.
Built like whippet but with a bite like a wolfhound, Linnane was one of the greatest ever Galway hurlers and famed for his bravery. Winner of three All-Irelands and three All-Stars, he patrolled the full-back line with ruthless efficiency. What Galway would give to have another Sylvie Linnane now.
McCoy’s Premier League Darts takes in Dublin for the first time when it visits the O2 Arena on Thursday 22 March. For ticket details, click here.