Former Munster rugby player Alan Quinlan spoke to OTBAM on Friday to remember his former teammate and friend Anthony 'Axel' Foley.
Playing at number 8, Foley made 201 appearances for Munster between 1995 and 2008. In 2011, Foley then became Munster's forward coach – before taking the main job in 2014.
This weekend marks the 5th anniversary of Foley's death. On October 16th 2016, Foley passed away in his sleep in a hotel in the suburbs of Paris.
The Munster team were in the French capital preparing for a match against Racing '92 in the European Rugby Champions Cup. The cause of death was acute pulmonary edema.
Foley's death shocked the rugby world. The match scheduled against Racing '92 was inevitably postponed.
"He was such an integral part of my rugby life, he was just always there. It's hard to believe that the time has sorta gone so quickly" says Quinlan.
Conquering the inner-critic
In light of his documentary tackling mental health in sport, Quinlan spoke openly about the anxiety he endured before going into matches on OTBAM. But Quinlan found solace within teammates, to control his nerves.
One such teammate was Foley.
"He was someone who oozed calmness. And that feeds out to people around you," says Quinlan.
"It's about the challenge or the situation that you are about to face. And when you have someone with a lot of experience with a really calm temperament, and goes 'well it'll be grand' – and that's just the way Axel always was" says Quinlan.
"Sometimes I would just look at Axel or he would look at me and just say: 'it's grand Quinny, calm down, relax'. It was that little trigger that took away that catatrophisation that was going on in my head. That lack of control".
Marking the moment
Meanwhile, Foley's death will be remembered with a minute's silence at Thomond Park on Saturday when Munster line out against Connacht in their United Rugby Championship clash. Munster go into the game in good form – but will be forced to reshuffle the pack after RG Snyman suffered a re-rupture to his cruciate ligament.
While the wounds of his sudden passing remain raw, Foley's legacy at the club will never be forgotten.
🗣️ "I always have regret criticising Anthony as a pundit..."
Alan Quinlan joined Adrian and Ger on #OTBAM earlier and remembered the late Anthony Foley.
Catch the full chat ⬇️⬇️⬇️: https://t.co/SLRBwtHVsW@gilletteuk | #BestFaceForward pic.twitter.com/tTlPAbuT4M
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) October 15, 2021