Uncompromising, unforgiving, unrelenting… The great Meath team of the late 1980s is known by many as one of the toughest sides to ever play Gaelic football.
With stars like O’Rourke, O’Malley, Flynn, Foley and O’Connell, none epitomised this great team as much as full back and leader, Mick Lyons.
That Meath team of the late eighties is beloved by most for their hardiness. An intimidating side whose legendary status lives on more than 30 years later. Sean Boylan built a side that could mix it up with the best in terms of their footballing ability and their ability to ‘win the fight’ so to speak.
The Summerhill man was the undoubted hardman of that hard team, however, don’t let that take away from his skills as a footballer. Mick Lyons was one of the greatest full backs to ever take to the field and is a legend among legends in the Royal County.
Rumour has it that during the four-game Dublin versus Meath saga of 1991, Lyons marked eight different Dublin full forward’s across each game and conceded just a single point.
His full-length diving block on Jimmy Kerrigan in the 1987 All-Ireland was not only inspirational but the catalyst for Meath to go on and win the county’s first All-Ireland in two decades.
Writing about the teak-tough defender in the Evening Press back in 1991, famed journalist, Con Houlihan remarked;
“I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are small boys in Dublin who believe that Mick Lyons is kept in a cage above in Summerhill and fed with raw meat. In fact, Mick is as mild a man as you could find in the world outside football. His main fault on the pitch is that, at times, he is reluctant to turn the other cheek. Nevertheless, a section of Dublin’s followers have appointed him as Public Enemy Number One.
“Many people think of Mick Lyons as a hard man – I think of him as a footballer, first class”
Lyons will forever be known as the iconic hard man who epitomised one of the games hardest ever teams but what should not be lost with time is the strength of his fielding and distribution alongside his guts and bravery.
The below clip sums Lyons up in a nutshell, not many players would react like this in the modern game.