Munster Players Reveal How They Reacted To Anthony Foley’s Untimely Passing
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We cannot even imagine what it was like to be a Munster rugby player yesterday.
Gearing yourself up for your biggest game of the season so far against French giants Racing 92 in Paris, only to learn that your head coach was found dead overnight in his hotel room.
Munster outhalf Ian Keatley has today spoken of the shock and grief in the team room in Paris as the players tried to absorb the shock of Anthony Foley’s death.
We knew something must be wrong when Axel didn’t show up for the line-outs. That doesn’t happen. When we got the news, all the players stayed together in the team room,”
The team flew back to Ireland on Sunday evening with Brendan, Anthony’s father, on board the plane.
“It was tough on the players but his father was there too and my thoughts were always with his family.
“At the end of the day, rugby is the last thing on our minds. It’s all about Anthony and his family now.
“Most people just see the 80 minutes on the pitch. That’s all they judge us on.
“We’re with each other every day and we try our hardest. Anthony epitomised that by working tirelessly because he wanted Munster to win so badly.
“I’ve known him seven years. I remember I had a poor performance last year and, it epitomised Anthony that he rang me up after the game and invited me out to his house the next day. We called out to his house and he had a pizza oven out in his garden.
“His wife and kids were there and Keith Wood and his family there and we were just having a pizza. He treated me normally even though I had a poor game.
“They are the things that people don’t see. He had a great heart,” he said.
“This year is not going to be easy for the team. There is a big hole there'” he said.
Munster hooker and Shannon player Duncan Casey said:
“I worked with Axel a long time. He was my under-20s coach and coached me with the Munster As and coached me on the senior side. He gave me my opportunity with the senior side.
“It’s just tragic and there’s a real sense of shock. It’s very hard to process.
“All of our thoughts and all of our efforts are with Olive and the family.
“He was terrific to me when I came out of sixth year in school and I was playing with Munster Under -20s. I had an excellent working relationship with him and a great personal relationship from then on.
“He was a great guy who is very sorely missed,” he said.