Alan Quinlan’s Beautiful Tribute To His Late Friend Anthony Foley
“The news strikes like a hammer to the face. So first there is shock. Then disbelief. And yesterday, anger.”
Alan Quinlan and Anthony Foley were very close. The two played with each other for Shannon, Munster and Ireland and were best friends both on and off the pitch.
Quinlan was in studio with Sky Sports when the tragic news broke and understandably rushed off air to catch the first plane he could.
That was why it was just so surreal to be in the Sky Sports studios on Sunday afternoon and told this scarcely credible news that my friend had died. That sort of thing shakes you.
I have been through so much with him, good days, bad days. We’d holidayed together. We knew everything about each other. He helped me so much in my career. So to see his picture in the background of a television studio and to be told he has gone, that was something I could not believe.
The two go way back as teenagers, friends since Quinlan was 17.
I’ve known him since I was a teenager. Seventeen years old and practically in awe of this superstar schoolboy talent who everyone knew was destined for greatness. Watching from afar, I was struck by his skill and his intelligence, his power and his class.
Lacking his self-belief, my initial feeling of being intimidated in his presence was eased by the way he’d set you at ease. “I’m Anthony,” he said, smiling, introducing himself. “Good to meet ya.”
Quinlan speaks of how Foley always inspired his teammates and was always a team player.
He inspired us, lifted us, was loyal to us and all have great memories of him. And on Sunday, as the disbelief hit, we were on the phone to each other, all his old team mates, sharing stories and tears, trying to come to terms with it all. And failing.
A week earlier I had a great chat with him just before the Leinster-Munster game. And yet when the business of rugby was out of the way, he was straight to the point. “It’s Mick Galwey’s 50th birthday on Saturday,” he said, “make sure you’re there.”
That was Anthony. He was always the team player. He wanted to be there for Mick and wanted his old teammates around him because he loved the craic and the camaraderie and also because there was a part of him that instinctively felt he should be around his friends off, as well as on, the field. A phone call here, a text there, a chat, a hug.
You can read the moving piece in full here