‘Axel’s’ tragic death rocks rugby core

Munster and Ireland international rugby player Fiona Reidy pens a tribute to Anthony Foley (Photo Credit: Fiona Reidy)

As the rugby world mourns the loss of Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley, Ireland women’s rugby international and Limerick Voice reporter Fiona Reidy describes how his untimely death has numbed the entire rugby community.

The death of Munster coach Anthony Foley at such a young age has united the rugby community in grief.  The news filtered through shortly after lunchtime on Sunday.

I was playing a club game of rugby with UL Bohemians after which news filtered through. We were playing against St. Mary’s. The poor weather had cleared and it was a beautiful day.

We were told the devastating news after the final whistle in the team huddle. Sport always has its highs and lows but this was different, this was the lowest, the worst and most devastating news to be told.

I went from being annoyed and frustrated at a poor scrappy game to instantly being overcome with feelings of shock and disbelief. As captain, the team needed me to speak but like everyone else I was speechless, frozen and struggling to understand how a man in his prime could be taken from us.

The Foley family are legends of the game, Anthony’s dad Brendan and his sister Rosie also wore the red of Munster and the green of Ireland.

A true rugby family where grassroots club rugby means everything to them. Their love of sport and unyielding will to succeed is what cast this Co.Clare family into greatness.

No doubt the memories of their dad’s wonderful playing days willed and motivated both Anthony and Rosie to follow in his footsteps.

The entire rugby community in Limerick has been plunged into mourning, from grassroots youth sections to senior men and women; all are still reeling from the news.

We can all relate to the unbearable loss of a family man, a husband, a father, a brother and a son, taken far too soon. It is a tragedy that could easily affect any one of us, our families or our teams.

Limerick is a city that has a tightly knit rugby community. An eerie silence has enveloped Thomond Park, the spiritual home of Munster rugby.

The hallowed pitch has become a shrine to ‘Axel’ Foley, the man who became synonymous with the red jersey and whose death has shaken the Irish rugby family to its core.

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