Eddie O’Sullivan laments loss of ‘phenomenal’ Anthony Foley

Former Ireland coach among thousands paying tribute to Munster coach in Killaloe

Michael Kearney, Keith Wood, Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell arrive to view the coffin of Munster Rugby head coach Anthony Foley in repose in St.Flannan’s Church, Killaloe in Co Clare. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michael Kearney, Keith Wood, Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell arrive to view the coffin of Munster Rugby head coach Anthony Foley in repose in St.Flannan’s Church, Killaloe in Co Clare. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has described Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley as a “phenomenal” rugby player and said his death is a “dreadful loss”.

O’Sullivan was in Killaloe on Thursday to attend the reposing of the former Munster head coach, who died last weekend in Paris.

“To me he was a phenomenal footballer because of his intelligence around the game,” he said of Foley.

“He wasn’t the greatest athlete to play at number eight for Ireland or Munster, but he certainly was one of the most incredible rugby brains I’ve ever worked with.”

“He knew as much as the coach when he was playing on the field, and he was crucial to leadership on the field. It’s absolutely no surprise that after he left the game as a player, that he became a coach.”

O’Sullivan said he had no doubt Foley would have coached the Ireland senior team some day.

“It’s a dreadful loss,” he said. “Everybody is still in shock, it’s very hard to know what to say to Brendan [Anthony’s father] and the rest of the family. Words don’t come easily, so it’s very harrowing to meet the family in such dreadful circumstances.

“You can see the crowds here are just immense. It’s something I wasn’t looking forward too, but I’m glad I got the chance to shake hands with Brendan. I know a Brendan a long time, I played against him and I know the family. It’s just a dreadfully sad occasion.

“What can you say, there are no words to describe what’s happened here. Everyone is just speechless,” he said.

“But, today is all about Anthony’s family and what they are going through, and I can only wish them the best.”