Thursday 19 January 2017

'You gave your body and soul to the cause' - Fans flock to Thomond Park to pay tribute to 'fallen leader' Anthony Foley

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 17/10/2016 | 10:48

Munster fans at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick.
Pic:Mark Condren
17.10.2016
Munster fans at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Munster fan Pat Kiely signs a book of condolence in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren
Munster fan Pat Kiely signs a book of condolence in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Munster fan Pat Kiely signs a book of condolence in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Munster fan Neil Cusack at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Munster fan John Galvin at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Flags fly at half mast at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Flags fly at half mast at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
The gate of Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Munster fans at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
The gate of Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016
Munster fans at Thomond Park, Limerick in memory of the late Ireland and Munster rugby player Anthony Foley at Thomond Park, Limerick. Pic:Mark Condren 17.10.2016

Mourning fans arrived at the gates of Thomond Park today to place Munster flags and bouquets on the people's shrine for fallen hero Anthony Foley.

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A book on condolences in a lobby near the gate was filling up with expressions of sympathy, sadness and pride as the people of Limerick and Clare came to pay homage.

Neil Cusack (64), who was the only Irishman to win the Boston marathon and who won the Dublin marathon in 1981, said "Anthony is our fallen leader.

"I live within the sound of the roar of Thomond Park.  The people of the city and the fans of Shannon rugby club and Munster are here to pay their respects to a very popular man.

"It's a terrible shock for a man of 42 to be gone," he said, adding he still cannot fathom the shock death of the former Ireland and Munster captain in a hotel in Paris yesterday.

 "Although he was no longer the number one in coaching for Munster, he always gave 100 percent to Munster.  He was a great leader," he said.

"I was at school in St Munchin's with his father Brendan. No one can believe he's gone'" he said.

 A teacher John Galvin (51) from Newmarket-on-Fergus arrived to plant a Munster flag on the stadium gates.

"Anthony was a great Clareman too.  He's up there with the great sporting legends of Clare.

I've followed Anthony's playing career nearly all my life.  We'll never forget him.

"It was important to come and pay homage here.

"His son and my son played  under age matches and he would be there supporting.

"His sister Rosie is a very nice person and she swam the English channel last year," he said.

 Pages and pages of the Book of Condolences were filled up during the morning.

One fan Catherine Ryan wrote: "Honest, fearless, loyal and funny. For Foley, it was never about me, it was always about us. RIP - a legend, a gent."

Pat 'K' declared: "Thank you for the memories Anthony. You gave body and soul to the cause.'Stand up and fight' always.

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