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The middle child of three, born to Brendan and Sheila Foley, he lived the first seven years of his life in Murroe, Co Limerick, before the family, which at this point included his sisters Rosie and Orla, moved to the picturesque town of Killaloe in Co Clare.
It was a serendipitous change of address as it introduced Foley to Keith Wood. Wood, a year older, the extrovert, Foley gangly and shy, they whiled away childhood hours trying to outdo one another across a variety of sports, before toiling together in the colours of Munster and Ireland Foley’s passion for sport was all-consuming and not just for rugby, in which he would forge a professional career.
“In beating Toulouse in Bordeaux [in 2000], we managed to score some of the best tries ever from a Munster perspective.
“I’d happily watch any number of re-runs of that day.
Foley scored a try on his debut for Ireland against England in 1995 from a quickly taken tap penalty. He won 62 caps, scored five tries and captained Ireland on three occasions, winning his final cap in a Six Nations game against Wales in 2005.
In 2011, he accepted the role of forwards coach with Munster – he fulfilled the same role for the incapacitated Gert Smal in the Ireland set-up in 2012 – and in 2014 he succeeded Rob Penney as head coach.
Away from rugby, he was a devoted family man, to wife, Olive, and sons, Tony and Dan.
Anthony Foley was a man who gave everything, a standard bearer in attitude and example; and a proud custodian of the Munster way. He is survived by his wife Olive, children Tony and Daniel, parents Brendan and Sheila, and sisters Rosie and Orla.
Anthony Foley, who has died aged 42, will command a prominent place in the pantheon of Munster and Irish rugby, having served his club, Shannon, province and country with distinction, whether as player or coach.
Affectionately known as Axel to the rugby community, it was a nickname inspired by the Eddie Murphy character of the same surname in the films.
He played soccer for Star Rovers, ran with St Lua’s athletics club and embraced hurling and football, first with local GAA club, Smith O’Briens, and then with age-grade Clare and East Clare teams.