Saturday 21 April 2018

Passion runs in the family

Anthony Foley during Munster squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Foley during Munster squad training. Photo: Sportsfile sportsdesk

A sporting spirit runs in some families - and in some families, it sprints. The Foleys of Killaloe in Clare are one such family, with siblings Anthony (62 caps for Ireland rugby, current Munster head coach) and Rosie (39 caps for Ireland, successfully swam the English Channel) the most well-known figures across the country.

Yet while the rugby field is their most familiar habitat, they were no stranger to athletics and the Community Games either.

"All my family were involved," explained Rosie recently. "My dad Brendan coached us in running and mum Sheelagh were big positive influences on all of us. I am the eldest, then Anthony and my younger sister Orla all participated in Killaloe & Clare Community Games. My husband Pat [Minogue] also competed with Scariff."

Her devotion to sport is something that has clearly passed down along the line to her three children, Oisín (10), Brendan (8) and Siofra (6).

"Oisin and Brendan both won bronze medals in front crawl swimming in Athlone in 2015. Both competed and have won medals individually and as part of team representing Killaloe. Siofra competed for the first time this year in both athletics and swimming, doing very well, and she's looking forward to next year's competitions. Oisín was in Athlone again last weekend competing in the U12 front crawl, and he loves being part of it all."

With thousands of children competing at Athlone IT this week, many of them aspiring to succeed in sport as Rosie and Anthony have done, the former international explains how a methodical approach can help any aspiring athlete to achieve their dream.

"First, you have to plan - write it down, find out what you can about it, and get expert advice. Then, dream it. Visualise situations during training, watch clips, and see yourself getting there! Finally, do it. Train gradually towards it, piece by piece, step by step or stroke to stroke."

Unsurprisingly, Foley is a huge supporter of the Community Games movement, and she was unstinting in her belief that participation in this and indeed all sport can be hugely beneficial.

"Community Games is a great organisation promoting core values and instilling community pride within all involved, as you have to start representing your club at local level to get to provincial level and then to make it to an international stage, in all activities. The range of activities offered gives children from all communities a chance to shine."

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