Tuesday 23 January 2018

Hero Anthony's Munster men stand up and fight

A portrait of Anthony Foley left in tribute before the match Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
A portrait of Anthony Foley left in tribute before the match Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Somehow, though Munster lost their coach, they found their soul.

Mick Galwey had hoped before the match that this day could be the start of something new. More than sport. Munster rugby, he said, had always been something special.

And yesterday, in Thomond Park, rugby was more than sport - it was something truly special. Emotions ran high, too high in some cases. But, to make Anthony Foley proud, Munster channelled emotion, fury and determination into an almost complete mauling of Glasgow.

This game will be remembered for a long time. It will be remembered by the youngsters with the number eight painted on their faces, by the fans who will be proud to say in years to come that they were there - that they were underneath the "Axel" and number eights spelled out by the crowd before the match.

But what everyone will remember will be that extraordinary moment after the game, as the players and friends of Munster and of Axel suddenly coalesced in the middle of what had been Foley's field.

A circle formed. The Sky presenter, not being Irish and not understanding what was going on, mistakenly thought there were some young fans involved in the gathering on the pitch. But, of course, it was Tony and Dan - Anthony's sons.

They were in that circle with men who had known, loved and soldiered next to their dad. Then there was a chorus of Stand Up And Fight.

It would have been a dream come true for any other two young Munster fans. For Tony and Dan it must have been some small comfort to bathe in the adulation and the brotherhood for their father that enveloped the stadium yesterday.

If the 16th man could have seen it, he would have known his boys were going to be OK - that they were being embraced, and would be looked after by a family that stretches beyond their relatives.

In general, though, Alan Quinlan felt Foley wouldn't have wanted too much fuss yesterday. He would have been thinking about the next game.

Sunday Independent

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