Dublin GAA is mourning one of its most revered figures after the death of legendary midfielder Brian Mullins.

Mullins, who was 68, died today after a short illness.

One of the foremost midfielders the game has ever known, the St Vincent’s man played a significant part in the Dublin football renaissance under Kevin Heffernan in the 1970s.

He won four All-Ireland medals, his first before he turned 20 in 1974 as Dublin claimed a first Sam Maguire since 1963, beating Galway in the final.

Earlier that year he had made his Dublin debut in a tournament match the day after he had played for a Leinster U-19 rugby team against Ulster in Ravenhill.

A supremely talented sportsman who also played cricket for the province, he went on to win three more All-Ireland medals, in 1976, ’77 and again in ’83 when Heffernan rebuilt the team.

In between he survived a serious car crash in 1980 that left him with a badly broken leg and out of the game for almost two years.

His recovery to play in three more All-Ireland finals between 1983 and 1985 was testament to the same iron will that he displayed so often on a football field.

Feared and respected in equal measure, Mullins brought great physical presence to Dublin that allowed them dominate opponents.

But he was also a supreme footballer, mixing superb fielding ability with great distribution.

His ability to grab hold of a game and dictate its terms got Dublin over the line so often in an era fondly remembered by followers of Gaelic games, not just in the capital for its transformation of the game. In that sense Mullins was one of the leading architects.

Mullins won nine Leinster titles with Dublin in addition to two league titles and was an All Star in 1976 and ’77, years when he was at the peak of his powers.

With St Vincent’s he was a Dublin championship winner five times and the club’s crowning glory during his time was their 1976 All-Ireland title when they beat Roscommon Gaels.

Mullins was briefly part of a Dublin management team, along with Sean Doherty and Robbie Kelleher, in 1986 and he was linked with the Dublin position on at least two other occasions after that when Tommy Lyons and Paul Caffrey were appointed instead.

His remaining inter-county managerial experience was with Derry who he managed between 1996 and ’98, winning a league and an Ulster title, Derry’s last before this summer.

He was also deeply immersed in St Vincent’s in recent years, both as manager and chairman and was the Director of Sport at UCD.

Dublin GAA paid tribute to Mullins this evening as it conveyed sympathy to the Mullins family.

“In the recent past it has been often said that Dublin teams stood on the shoulders of giants. Today we lost one of those giants. Brian Mullins was a colossus and a Dublin GAA legend,” a statement read.

“Whether in the blue and white of St. Vincent’s or the sky blue of Dublin, Brian was a dominant force who inspired his team-mates. Majestic fielding, perpetual motion, clever and accurate in possession, and capable of getting vital scores – he was indomitable with an iron will to win.

“Brian helped light the touchpaper that reignited Dublin’s fire almost 50 years ago. It is with great sadness that he has left us today but the memory of his deeds will live in the hearts and minds of Dublin supporters, and indeed well beyond the county lines, forever.”

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