Sunday 19 November 2017

Fergus Walsh - Top Man and top Coach

By any standard, ‘lovely man’ and ‘good coach’ represent uncomfortable bedfellows but Fergus was indeed just that.
By any standard, ‘lovely man’ and ‘good coach’ represent uncomfortable bedfellows but Fergus was indeed just that.
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

Early on Tuesday morning Christy Cantillon informed the Munster team of 1978, courtesy of WhatsApp, that former coach Fergus Walsh had unexpectedly passed away. The reaction across the board was one of shock, allied to fond memories of the lovely man that Fergus was.

My sentiments echoed those of the rest. By any standard, 'lovely man' and 'good coach' represent uncomfortable bedfellows but Fergus (right) was indeed just that. Former captain, hooker and current chairman of the Six Nations Council Pat Whelan probably summed up our collective feeling best when saying: "He coached, and I had the dubious honour, of captaining Munster when we were beaten by Connacht in 1979. He told me after that he was proud to have coached Munster irrespective of the result."

That was Fergus, utterly genuine, and two years later at Musgrave Park, now Irish Independent Park, on November 17, 1981, he reached the summit of his coaching career when leading most of that same Munster team to success over Australia. I was on both of those teams and whether in victory or defeat Fergus was always the same, always accentuating the positive. Put simply, he was my type of coach.

I last spoke to him at the Munster/Leinster game in Thomond over the Christmas and he seemed in great health and form. His sudden loss has come as a shock to all of us but nowhere will that be felt more than by Alannah, Mark, David, Siobhan, Fergus and extended family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Irish Independent

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