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Anthony Foley
Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Foley - A measured footballing intellect without peer
1 January 2008, 2:15 pm
By Pat Geraghty
"Asked to sum him up in a single word, I state simply and unequivocally that Anthony Foley and honesty go hand in hand." - so said former international and Munster out-half Tony Ward is his glowing tribute to Anthony Foley in yesterday's Irish Independent after the announcement of Foley imminent retirement from the game.

ON the wall in my home there hangs a picture. It is of my good self, Brendan Foley, Ginger McLoughlin and Ciaran Fitzgerald enjoying a bevvy on a yacht in Sydney Harbour on a free Sunday early on the 1979 tour.

Every time I've looked at it over the years it has reminded me of Anthony and Rosie Foley.

The context being that as the snap was taken we were discussing the difficulty in sleeping following the long- haul flight out and Big Bren was assuring us that with two young children at home getting the head down in Oz simply wasn't an issue.

For the last decade, and more, both Foley children have worn the Munster red and Ireland green, following in the footsteps of dad.

If ever the "like father, like son" adage applied, it is to Anthony.

I first became aware of this outstanding young forward at St Munchin's in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His reputation throughout the province and nationally at underage had preceded him. He didn't disappoint.

He made it in double-quick time and has remained there for a remarkable 13 years.

Like Brendan, Anthony has been the epitome of honesty throughout his career.

He wasn't born to be a dynamic ball-carrier a la his great rival and many times Ireland team-mate Victor Costello -- nor did he pretend to be -- but when it came to reading the game and maximising every ounce of god-given talent Foley the younger reigned supreme.

He had, and has still, a measured footballing intellect without peer and has been to this generation in terms of impact and respect from fellow players and opponents what Willie Duggan was before.

The decision to announce his retirement now is strange but given his form of late and the fact that he is more than holding his own in a Munster side with genuine Heineken Cup-winning aspirations, already Dr Kidney the psychologist supreme is tapping into the "this one's for Anthony" mode.

It will be a sad day when his time is up. A coaching career has been mapped out at Shannon.

But first, a name on a trophy for the second year in three and a final chapter still to be written.

Asked to sum him up in a single word, I state simply and unequivocally that Anthony Foley and honesty go hand in hand.

The pleasure and privilege of commenting on the consummate rugby professional has been mine.

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