Lions’ captain, Peter O’Mahony: One in a hundred

THE ancient Greeks had an appreciation, maybe sharper than ours, of how raw life could be. 

One of their historians — Heraclitus — offered this assessment of battle: “Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle.

Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” Though it is perverse to compare war and sport, we can recognise qualities essential in both.

Tomorrow morning, Peter O’Mahony becomes the 11th Irishman to captain a Lions test side. As honours go, there are few higher in sport. O’Mahony’s selection is a recognition that he epitomises the one-in-a-hundred edge the Greeks celebrated.

It is a recognition of the family and the environment that brought him to this achievement, one last realised by a Corkman — Tom Kiernan — nearly 50 years ago.

The All Blacks are world champions and one of the greatest teams in sport, but that dominance will be challenged in Auckland by a team led by a man who radiates courage and who leads by no-reverse example. Heraclitus would approve.

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