Jerry Flannery On How Munster’s Troubles Deeply Affected The Late Anthony Foley
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“It was a vicious circle, the more we tried the worse it got.”
Jerry Flannery has opened up about the torture that was Anthony Foley’s two years in charge of Munster as head coach. The southern province struggled massively during that spell, and the toll it took on Foley was devastating.
Speaking in a documentary about the late Munster captain and head coach which will air Monday on RTÉ One at 9.35pm, Flannery said:
“We all love Munster. It wasn’t just a job for us, and we were trying our best at it. It was a vicious circle, the more we tried the worse it got.”
“It was as if this special thing that gave us all these opportunities and gave us all these great memories, I felt like it was dying and we couldn’t help it. We were miserable, absolutely miserable, it was torture.”
Foley’s sister Rosie explained that the difficult period Anthony had almost fallen out of love with rugby. He was heavily scrutinised, with Munster failing to qualify from their European group for two consecutive years. Foley even received harsh letters of criticism.
“You can take it from your own but it’s very difficult then if your wife, or as started happening his sons, start to read things,” explained Rosie Foley.
“And these are not nice things being said about their father, that is difficult. Maybe at times during that difficult period he might not have loved rugby as much as he would have.”
So intense was the pressure and scrutiny that Foley offered to leave his post as Munster head coach on several occasions.
“He was more conscious than anyone that he wanted to do what was best for Munster and I would say on at least two occasions he said to us ‘if you think the best thing for me to do is step down I’ll do it’,” admitted Garrett Fitzgerald, CEO of Munster Rugby.