Former Irish international coach Mick Doyle has died following a motor accident in County Tyrone today. Doyle, who led Ireland to the Triple Crown and the Five Nations Championship, passed away after a collision between the car he was in and a lorry on the main Omagh to Dungannon Road. The driver of the lorry is understood to have suffered minor injuries.
Doyle was born in Castleisland, County Kerry on October 13, 1941. He made his Ireland debut against France on January 23 1965, scoring a try during the game. He went on to earn the distinction of never being dropped during his 20-cap international career as a flanker.
Doyler, as he was affectionately know, scored the winning try against Wales in 1967, toured Australia with Ireland in 1967 and South Africa with the British and Irish Lions the next year. His last game for Ireland was against Australia in October 1968, when he lined out alongside his brother Tommy.
He coached Leinster to Interprovincial Championship success five times between 1979 and 1983 before he succeeded Willie John McBride as Ireland coach during the 1984/85 season. Under Doyle's stewardship, Ireland won the Triple Crown and Five Nations Championship in 1985.
He led Ireland to the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 but that joy was tinged with sadness as he suffered a heart attack at the opening dinner. He battled illness and adversity and his recovery from a brain haemorrhage was chronicled in his book '0.16'.
In latter years, apart from working in his veterinary practice, he was a regular contributor to rugby matters on RTÉ Radio One, where his insight, honesty and humour frequently illuminated the big occasions for the listening public.
The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has led tributes to Doyle. He said: "Mick Doyle is associated with some of the finest moments in modern Irish rugby, adding: "On and off the sporting field he was a leader and one of life's natural enthusiasts."
The President of the IRFU, John Quilligan, said that it was with "a great sense of shock and sorrow" that he learned of the news. Quilligan continued: "Mick Doyle leaves an indelible mark on Irish rugby as "a player of distinction" and also as a "coach of renown". "Mick was also a larger than life character of great popularity, who will be sorely missed in all rugby circles."
The Leinster Branch of the IRFU described Doyle as a "superb servant to both Leinster and Irish rugby", adding that his tragic passing "will touch the hearts of the nation".
The Ulster Branch said that "as well as being a distinguished player and coach, he was also one of rugby's great characters, who will be sorely missed."
FAI chief executive Fran Rooney has issued a statement expressing his shock and sadness at Doyle's death. "He was an immense character and is a great loss to rugby and Irish life as a whole," Rooney said.
There will be a minute's silence in memory of Doyle before Leinster's final Celtic League game of the season against the Newport-Gwent Dragons at Lansdowne Road on Friday (7.35pm).
Filed by Rob Wright