Friday 23 June 2017

Like father, like son... young 'Axel' steeped in Munster red

Brendan Foley lining out for Ireland in 1982
Brendan Foley lining out for Ireland in 1982
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Anthony Foley came from a family steeped in the rugby tradition.

His father Brendan also played in the red of Munster and was part of the team that famously defeated the All Blacks in Thomond Park in 1978.

In his early years, 'Axel' was given the freedom to choose his own path - and as a talented sportsman, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps.

Indeed, his father's playing career included time at Shannon RFC, a club Anthony went on to represent.

His sister Rosie is also a successful sportswoman who has represented Ireland at the highest level in rugby as part of the international women's team.

On learning of Mr Foley's death, the Shannon club released a statement which revealed just how close to the club the family is.

Rosie Foley in action for Ireland
Rosie Foley in action for Ireland

"We in Shannon Rugby are at a loss to comprehend the tragedy of the passing of one of our quintessential club legends, Anthony Foley," it said

It mentioned his family by name, including his wife Olive, his two children, his parents Brendan and Sheila and his sisters Rosie and Orla.

"Shannon RFC's president, Noel Healy, whose friendship with Anthony transcended rugby, is devastated at the news," it added.

The importance of family to the Foleys has been made clear repeatedly from comments they've made. In an interview with the local 'Limerick Leader' paper in August 2014, Rosie spoke about the importance of her brother's support when she swam the English Channel.

"Anthony has been inspirational," she said at the time. "Some of his victories with Munster show what can be achieved."

For her part, she won 39 caps for the Ireland women's rugby team. Rosie and 'Axel' were similar in their multi-disciplinary practice in sport.

He played both Gaelic football and hurling as a youngster, while along with swimming and rugby she also excelled at camogie.

Brendan also spoke to the Limerick paper in 2014, after his son was appointed as Munster's coach.

"He has a good head on him. He knows what it is like to sit and watch teams play. It is very important to come up through the ranks. He will have that experience both as a coach and a player," he said.

Irish Independent

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