Mick Doyle

Uncompromising rugby player and coach for Ireland

Mick Doyle was a fine example of the quintessentially hard, passionate and uncompromising flankers who have served Irish rugby so well down the years. Robust, committed and brave, he played at a time when the national side were undergoing something of a resurgence in the late 1960s, though Doyle will be remembered best for coaching Ireland to a rare Triple Crown and Five Nations' Championship success in 1985.

Michael Gerard Martin Doyle, rugby player, coach and veterinary surgeon: born Castleisland, Co Kerry 13 October 1941; twice married (one son, three daughters); died Dungannon, Co Tyrone 11 May 2004.

Mick Doyle was a fine example of the quintessentially hard, passionate and uncompromising flankers who have served Irish rugby so well down the years. Robust, committed and brave, he played at a time when the national side were undergoing something of a resurgence in the late 1960s, though Doyle will be remembered best for coaching Ireland to a rare Triple Crown and Five Nations' Championship success in 1985.

Doyle was introduced to the game that shaped his life at Newbridge College, Co Kildare, a school with a deserved reputation for producing outstanding rugby players. From there, he went to University College Dublin to study veterinary science. He had won the first of 20 consecutive caps for Ireland in 1965 - against France at Lansdowne Road, where he scored a try on his début - before going up to Cambridge, and gaining a Blue in the first drawn Varsity match since 1953.

After Cambridge, Doyle completed his studies at Edinburgh University and continued his club rugby with Edinburgh Wanderers, before returning to Ireland. Although the Triple Crown and the Five Nations' Championship continued to elude the men in green, with Doyle in the team alongside Mike Gibson, Willie John McBride, Tom Kiernan, Ken Kennedy, Mick Molloy and Noel Murphy it was a side rich in promise which, with two or three more class players, might have achieved much more. Even so they still managed to beat Australia three times in under two years, twice in Dublin and again in Sydney on a six-match tour in May 1968.

Later that month, Doyler - as he was known to all - was on his travels again, this time with the British Lions in South Africa where they were to play 20 matches and four Tests, three of which were lost, the second drawn. Doyle played in the first Test, in Pretoria, but with the pack having been overpowered by the heavier Springbok eight, Doyle, who was not a particularly big man, had to give way to the taller Jim Telfer in a reshaped back row, and the Scot played in the remaining three Tests.

It had been some year for Doyle, one of whose greatest pleasures was to have his younger brother, Tom, in the Ireland back row for the matches against England, Scotland and Wales in that season's Championship. However, with the demands of a young family, Mick decided that he would retire from international rugby, though he continued to play for his club, Blackrock College.

The next step was coaching, at which Doyle soon became a conspicuous success, leading Leinster to four Inter-Provincial Championships and sharing another between 1979 and 1984, before he was handed the coaching reins for the national side in controversial circumstances. Willie John McBride had been in the job for just a season when Doyle took over.

With a group of young players Doyle encouraged a free-running style, with players being able to express themselves to the full in a way that had not been seen from an Ireland team for many years. Having suffered a whitewash under McBride the previous season, Ireland, in 1985, were within sight of their first Grand Slam since 1948, though a drawn match with France at Lansdowne Road narrowly prevented a clean sweep. Once he retired from coaching, Doyle became a newspaper columnist, radio and TV pundit, and was highly regarded for his wide knowledge of the game and his outspoken views.

He was killed in a road accident in Co Tyrone. Twice before he had cheated death, firstly when he was in New Zealand, coaching at the inaugural World Cup in 1987 where he suffered a heart attack; though it was typical of him that he was back on the training field within four days. Then, in 1996 he fell victim to a brain haemorrhage. Doyle showed great resolution in learning to walk and speak again, before he could resume life as he knew it before his illness.

As less than 1 per cent of those with such a condition survive, the experience led him to write a book, Zero Point One Six: living in extra time (2001). After his rehabilitation, Doyle then worked for three years on the board of Headway Ireland, a charity formed to help those afflicted by acquired brain injuries.

Paul Stephens



News
people
News
Moss and Grimshaw arrive at the party
peopleKate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Grimshaw at Jonathan Ross's Halloween party
News
i100Amazing Amazon review bomb
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
News
i100
Travel
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities