Brian Mullins will always be synonymous with a defining era for Gaelic Football in Dublin. Over the course of his career, he won four All-Ireland titles, nine Leinster titles, two National League titles, and two All-Star awards, and became a hero of Hill 16 for his inspirational displays in the middle of the field.
He has managed Derry and his club St Vincent’s to success and is currently Director of Sport in UCD. In this episode, we deep dive into some of Brian’s experiences on and off the pitch, his formative experience of summers spent with his cousins in Kerry and Clare, his time playing inter-provincial rugby with Leinster, Kevin Heffernan’s management style and unique personality, his current work with UCD and much more. Brian is back in the hot seat managing St Vincents Senior team and we thought it was timely to relook at the take-aways:
+ “You either walk away into the sunset or you decide you’re going to make another stand”
After the team’s defeat in 1975 Brian describes how the players made a decision to come back stronger and how quite often a defeat can actually benefit a team in the long run by testing their mettle and seeing if they have it in them to regroup and build on that experience.
+ “You can nearly smell high performance in the air.”
Having grown up in Clontarf playing many sports outside of the GAA, Brian remembers joining Vincent’s for the first time and detecting their high-performance mentality. He talks about how they didn’t take being champions for granted and how their level of preparation was more than anything he had experienced before and the culture of always thinking about what it took to be champions and carry the Vincent’s jersey. On Kevin Heffernan’s legacy, he said that “His gravitas, his memory, his legacy is very much around the club, all the time”.
+ The introduction of Sports Science by Mickey Whelan in the 1970s
Brian recalls how Kevin Heffernan’s close friend in life and once opponent on the pitch Mickey Whelan first brought Sports Science to the team having completed a Masters in the subject at the University of West Virginia. This introduction of organised cardiovascular training combined with strength and conditioning training meant that the athletes were able to be trained properly and give their best on game day.
+ “The GAA is part of the DNA of the Irish life.”
Despite some of the challenges caused by dwindling populations in rural communities, Brian points out that by embracing the GAA framework these community clubs can amalgamate and prosper and in response, the GAA prospers. He describes how after over a hundred years the GAA is part of the fabric of life in Ireland and impossible to put a boundary on or measure and has become part of the national DNA.
Listen to full episode Here