Tony O’Reilly: Ireland and Lions legend dies aged 88

Ireland and British & Irish Lions legend Tony O’Reilly has died at the age of 88. [more]

Tony O'Reilly

Ireland and British & Irish Lions legend Tony O’Reilly has died at the age of 88.

The winger toured twice with the Lions, in 1955 and 1959, and rewrote the record books, with several marks that still stand to this day.

O’Reilly was still a teenager when selected for his first Tour, to South Africa, as the Lions came away with a 2-2 drawn series against the Springboks.

In all, he scored 16 tries in 15 matches, which remains a post-war record in the country, scoring twice on debut.

O’Reilly played all four Tests, scoring in the first and last Tests, the latter helping earn a 22-8 victory to square the series.

Four years later, he toured with the Lions once more, proving just as prolific against Australia and New Zealand.

On this occasion, he managed 21 tries in 23 encounters. 17 of those came in New Zealand, a record that was equalled by John Bevan, while his overall record on that Tour remains unbeaten in the post-war era.

The Lions won the first two Tests against the Wallabies, with O’Reilly scoring in each game, while he added two more tries in the 3-1 series defeat to New Zealand.

His overall tally of 37 tries is the most of any Lions player, and similarly, no one has ever matched his record of six Test tries in ten appearances.

At international level, O’Reilly made 29 appearances for Ireland, while he played for Old Belvedere and Leinster.

After retiring from the sport, O’Reilly went on to enjoy a successful business career.

The thoughts of everyone at The British & Irish Lions are with Tony’s family and friends.

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