Tuesday 6 December 2016

Axel Foley: a particularly Irish kind of heroism

Anthony Foley's death sent a chill through his generation, says Brendan O'Connor. Even immortals aren't immune to mortality

Published 23/10/2016 | 02:30

'How many heroes did you hear say that Anthony Foley was their hero? A hero among heroes' Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland
'How many heroes did you hear say that Anthony Foley was their hero? A hero among heroes' Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland

There is a particularly Irish type of heroism. It's not necessarily about being the greatest athlete ever to wear the number eight jersey. It's not about being a sculpted, chiselled giant. It's not about being a show pony, a loud, media-friendly guy who's good at talking himself up.

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It's about being solid, maybe even low-key. It's about leading quietly, often from behind. It's about doing what you do really well. It's about not talking too much but about saying the right thing at the right time. It's about every word counting.

It's about going deep into the science of what you do as well, of working not just hard but working intelligently. It's about quiet study of your discipline, about knowing your game inside out. It's about watching and learning. It's about knowing every important move that happened in every important game. It's about remembering when and how things happened.

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