Wednesday 17 January 2018

Legends of rugby pay tribute to Ann Kidney

Wife of former Ireland coach Declan Kidney hailed as 'the perfect lady'

Ann Kidney with Declan when he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick Photo: Press 22
Ann Kidney with Declan when he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick Photo: Press 22
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Legends of Irish rugby have joined the tributes paid to the wife of former Ireland rugby coach Declan Kidney who died last Tuesday.

Ann Kidney passed away surrounded by her family at Marymount University Hospice.

Her funeral Mass took place last Friday at the Church of Christ Our Light, Ballincollig, followed by burial at St Oliver's Cemetery.

She is survived by her husband and two sons, Kevin and Cian. Declan Kidney is one of the most respected and experienced rugby coaches in Ireland, with countless career highlights.

Former Ireland and Munster rugby captain Mick Galwey recalled how Declan's wife would regularly attend matches in support of her husband.

"We all knew Ann back in the day. First and foremost she was a great family person - she was always there for their children. She was also always there for Declan and was one of our best supporters. She had a smile and greeting for everybody and was one of those perfect ladies. I attended the funeral and there was a great attendance, which shows the mark of the woman.

"She was a teacher and a lot of her fellow workers were there. It was evident that they also had huge respect for her. I remember how you'd always see her around but never hear her. I would regard her as a perfect lady. She went to a lot of the matches - even the games away from home."

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, former Munster, Ireland and Lions flanker David Wallace said it was obvious Declan and Ann were always "extremely close".

"I'm thinking of Declan at this difficult time. She was a lovely lady and was a regular at the games. Many of the wives and girlfriends of players who met her down through the years grew very close to her too."

As a mathematics and career guidance teacher at Presentation Brothers College, Cork, Declan Kidney coached school teams to four Munster Junior Cups and four Munster Senior Cups.

He coached the Irish Schools to a Triple Crown victory in 1993 and the Ireland Under-19 side to a World Cup victory in 1998, with a side that included icons of the game such as Brian O'Driscoll, Donnacha O'Callaghan and Paddy Wallace.

He became Munster coach in 1998 during a period of major transition in the game as the changeover from amateur to professional status gathered pace. He is also acknowledged as having laid the foundation for the most successful period in the long and distinguished history of rugby in the province.

After a brief period as assistant coach to the Irish senior side and head coach at Leinster, Kidney rejoined Munster as coach in 2005, leading the team to a Heineken Cup win that season. In July 2008, Kidney was appointed as Ireland head coach. By March 2009, he had brought the team to Ireland's first Grand Slam in 61 years at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Sunday Independent

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