Monday 5 December 2016

Thousands queue up to pay respects to Anthony Foley

Published 20/10/2016 | 17:26

People queue up to pay their respects to the family of Anthony Foley at St. Flannan's Church
People queue up to pay their respects to the family of Anthony Foley at St. Flannan's Church

Rugby stars past and present were among thousands who joined the grieving family of Anthony Foley as his remains were brought to his hometown church.

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Two hour-long queues formed at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe in Co Clare, as people waited patiently to pay their respects to the Munster and Ireland favourite.

Munster Rugby head coach Foley, 42, died suddenly in the team hotel in Paris at the weekend, just hours before his side were due to play Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup.

His widow Olive and two young sons Tony and Dan, both wearing Munster jerseys, were supported by his father Brendan, himself a former Ireland international, and other relatives in emotional scenes outside the church.

Foley's coffin, draped in a Munster flag, arrived just before 1pm to lie in repose throughout the afternoon and early evening prior to spending a final night in the family home ahead of Friday's funeral.

Current Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and captain Rory Best joined the throngs that descended on the small town on the River Shannon to say farewell.

Leinster, Ireland and Lions talisman Johnny Sexton also paid tribute along with a number of his provincial team-mates. Connacht coach Pat Lam also travelled.

Former Munster, Ireland and Lions star Keith Wood, a close friend of Foley, was among the first to queue outside the church on Thursday morning.

The family issued a statement to urge people to come to the church early, given the length of queues.

"The crowds attending today are as vast as we could have anticipated," it stated.

Foley died from a build-up of fluid on his lungs as a result of heart disease.

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