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Lions Recognition For ‘Rala’

Lions Recognition For ‘Rala’

While the achievement of a record-breaking 14 Ireland players securing places in the 2009 British & Irish Lions playing panel will be widely feted, we should not forget that two other men who have a long-standing connection with Ireland squads over the years will also be travelling to South Africa.

Hearty congratulations to both Paddy ‘Rala’ O’Reilly, Ireland’s popular bagman, and Dr. Gary O’Driscoll, who recently stepped down as Ireland team doctor, on their appointments for the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

Paddy ‘Rala’ O’Reilly – 2009 Lions Baggage Master

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‘Rala’, who turned 61 last week, is in his fifteenth year as baggage master for the Ireland squad with whom he has toured every major rugby playing nation, that includes three World Cups.

A former pupil at Terenure College, where on the rugby field he played as hooker, he began ‘doing the bag’ for Terenure College RFC around 1983.

This led to working with the Leinster Under-21 side that included Conor O’Shea, Shane Byrne, Martin Ridge and Niall Woods.

He then moved onto the Leinster senior squad under coach Jim Glennon, continuing to combine that role with his Terenure work before becoming bagman to the national squad in 1995.

A father figure and friend to many of the Ireland internationals since then, Rala’s room has been visited by many a player on the eve of a big game.

It was whilst at Terenure College, that he got his nickname of Rala. He was in class one day struggling to spell his name in Irish and got as far as ‘r, a, l, a…’ and couldn’t remember the rest of it.

It was stuck up on the board, so from that moment on he was known as Rala.

Dr. Gary O’Driscoll – 2009 Lions Doctor

Gary is the son of former Irish full-back Barry, with whom he is in general practice with in Manchester, and a second cousin of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning captain Brian O’Driscoll.

A specialist in sports medicine, he became doctor to the Irish senior squad in the summer of 2002 and has been part of all their major internationals and tours.

He left the Ireland set-up in February of this year after eleven years of involvement with Irish rugby to become the team doctor for Arsenal Football Club.

He previously worked with the Irish Under-21 squads in three World Cups and has covered many other sports including international rugby league, basketball, American football, netball and cycling events.

He is a member of the Sports Medicine steering group for London 2012 and previously toured with the Lions to New Zealand in 2005.