Rugby

In Pictures: The Incredible Journey Of Peter O'Mahony To Lions Captain

In Pictures: The Incredible Journey Of Peter O'Mahony To Lions Captain

The announcement of Warren Gatland's Lions team for the last weekend game before the All Blacks test series was probably the most anticipated and scrutinised of any team selection made on tour so far. The game against the New Zealand Maori is the last chance for Gatland to gel his first choice team before the tests begin, and while there will definitely be one or two changes yet to come (Farrell and Wyn Jones will come in for sure with maybe one or two more), it's the strongest team the Lions will have fielded yet in what will be just seven days out from the first test.

And while we all woke up this morning eager to see what Irish players had made it into the starting XV, there was another lovely bonus to those of us scanning the news at first light - the surprise of Munster's Peter O'Mahony being named captain.

It's great news for O'Mahony in his hopes of making a test team just months after he would have thought he had no chance of even making the tour. But then again, there's not much that is beyond the 27 year old Cork man, as he has shown throughout his career - a career which has made him the natural successor to Paul O'Connell as Munster and Ireland's talismanic leader and the most beloved and inspirational player on the field.

He's come a long way since going to the Under 20's World Cup in 2009....

14 May 2009; Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

 

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Not sure he'd stand for this kind of bizarre photo shoots these days though.

Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

It was a quick rise from there. From Munster A in early 2010....

4 February 2010; Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
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To raging through the AIL with Cork Con that spring...

3 April 2010; Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

To laughing at the defeated Wallabies that autumn.

16 November 2010;  Picture credit: Alan Place / SPORTSFILE
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2011 was the year he would break into the Munster first team properly, and he was quickly carrying the entire province on his back

12 May 2011; Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

As such natural leader, it didn't take long for him to stand in as captain.

8 October 2011;  Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
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He quickly learned from the master, copying everything he did.

19 November 2011; Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

It wasn't long before he broke into the Ireland squad, like a kid arriving for his first day of school.

31 January 2012;  Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
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He quickly endeared himself to Irish fans as the most passionate (and tone deaf) anthem singer we've ever had.

10 March 2012; Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

He's already faced the All Blacks in June in New Zealand. It would give you a terrible headache...

16 June 2012; Picture credit: Ross Setford / SPORTSFILE
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2013 saw him captaining his country at just 23 years old.

8 June 2013; Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

And was quickly named permanent Munster captain too...

1 October 2013;  Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
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2013/14 proved quite a season for POM.

19 January 2014;  Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

He enjoyed the spoils of being a Munster hero.

19 January 2014;  Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
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And just went and won the Six Nations, no big deal...

15 March 2014;  Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Everything was going so well until a shoulder injury in the Heineken Cup quarter final ended his season.

5 April 2014;  Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
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He was back in action in November though. Shoulder injury? Not a bother...

22 November 2014;  Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

And just the two in a row that spring...

21 March 2015; Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
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2015 was all leading to the World Cup. And it started so well...

19 September 2015;  Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Until the French game. O'Mahony would miss a year as one of the multitude of Irish players who would go down in the victory over France.

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11 October 2015;  Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

All they could do was look on as we crashed out in the Quarter Finals (again) without them.

18 October 2015; Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

It was a long road back...

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3 May 2016;  Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

But he was back in red after a tough 12 months out...

1 October 2016; Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

But tragedy would soon strike for Munster, and rugby in general, with the sad passing of Anthony Foley

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21 October 2016;  Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

O'Mahony's leadership was to the fore in the days, weeks, and months after the loss of his coach.

22 October 2016;Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

22 October 2016;  Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
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7 January 2017;  Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

His famous lineout steal against England in the Grand Slam spoiler was indicative of a man of the match performance that earned his place on the plane to New Zealand.

18 March 2017;  Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It is a long tour, but he probably overdid it on the packing.

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31 May 2017; Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Rumour has it the Corkman had Lions pictures on his wall as a kid. He made his debut against The Blues in the second tour game.

7 June 2017;  Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

But it was in the hardfought win over the Crusaders that the Munster man really put his hand up for test selection

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10 June 2017; Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

And today, ahead of his third game for The Lions, Peter O'Mahony was selected as captain by coach Warren Gatland for the game against New Zealand Maori.

15 June 2017; Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A natural leader on every team he's been on. This should really be no surprise to anyone. Good luck to the latest captain of the British and Irish Lions.

 

Michael McCarthy

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