Anthony Foley: A Tribute

Anthony Foley, RIP

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A Tribute by Br. Denis Hooper OSB

Anthony Foley’s recent death has sent shock waves around the world of sport and beyond. Anthony was truly an international Irish icon. He was a constant presence in Munster Rugby since he started his playing career. You had the feeling that he would always be around just like his dad Brendan, a Munster legend who was part of the team that beat the All Blacks in 1978. The Foley’s were Munster and Munster was the Foleys.

Forty two is a very young age for a man to die –  especially one who was a professional athlete. It sends shivers up the spines of all middle-aged men because if it can happen to Anthony Foley it can happen to anyone.

Anthony had an early connection with Glenstal. His father Brendan’s bus company used to drive Glenstal rugby teams to away games in Dublin and elsewhere. One such trip was to Armagh when Anthony was about ten years old. He sat in the front of the bus with his dad for the entire trip to and from Armagh. There were no motorways in those days so it was a long journey of about twelve hours both ways. The memory of the Foleys on that trip was of a quiet boy who was in awe of his dad and of a dad enthralled by his son. Fr William  was on the bus that day and remembered the trip very well. Neither Brendan nor Anthony spoke very much but you could see that the bond between them was special and remained so throughout his short life.

Anthony’s exploits on the Rugby pitch for St. Munchins, Shannon, Munster and Ireland are well-documented. Munster rugby was in his DNA. One of his oldest friends, Paul McMahon coached the 2008 and 2009 Glenstal Senior Rugby teams and he kept Anthony up-to-date with all Glenstal’s news. In fact, Anthony was instrumental in spotting and encouraging the talents of Ian Nagle (2007) and Duncan Casey (2008). He  kept a keen eye on the progress of the current  Glenstal players in the Munster Schools setup. Anthony was spotted at various Glenstal Cup games in recent years. He also did separate coaching sessions with various Glenstal teams over the years. A Glenstal Old Boy living in Sydney reported that Irish people in the city centre were wearing Munster jerseys as a mark of respect.

Like everyone in Munster, we in Glenstal feel the loss of Anthony Foley. A Glenstal Old Boy and former SCT Captain, Jason McMahon (1993) is a rugby contemporary of Anthony’s and neighbour of the Foley’s in Killaloe.  The entire community in Killaloe has been doing what they can to help the Foley family in their tragic loss.

St. Munchins, Shannon, Munster and Ireland have lost a good friend in Anthony Foley. Glenstal has also lost a good friend and a keen supporter of Glenstal rugby. We won’t ever see the likes of him again. But we will always have memories – not just of the glory days – but also of the kindness and support he always extended to Glenstal.

The entire Glenstal community extends its sympathy to the Foley family at this time of great loss in their lives.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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