Munster stars line-out for Shane’s pitch

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

SEVERAL of Munster’s first team stars have marked their support for an art installation that will commemorate the third anniversary of rugby player Shane Geoghegan’s death.

SEVERAL of Munster’s first team stars have marked their support for an art installation that will commemorate the third anniversary of rugby player Shane Geoghegan’s death.

Started by Shane’s aunt, artist Margaret Walsh, the Pitch For Shane initiative aims to create a ‘metaphorical pitch’ in his memory. Mrs Walsh has accumulated close to 20,000 of the four to six inch terracotta figures, which will go on display in Istabraq Hall next Wednesday, November 9.

Paul O’Connell, Keith Earls, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, team manager Shaun Payne and operations manager Bryan Murphy combined to create statuettes and pose for pictures.

O’Gara posed with ‘Front Row’ - a statuette created by Shane’s brother Anthony, featuring a front row of himself, Shane and cousin Garret Walsh, Margaret’s son.

“I’m delighted with them, really delighted,” said Margaret of the Munster players. “It happened by chance, I went out to UL last week and gave the clay into the Arena with a message to ask them to make (the sculptures) and I got a message to say they were training in Thomond Park and I could come over and collect them. Then when I was there they all came out and took photographs with the pieces in their hand, they were very good. I am blown away by it actually, they have been fabulous,” she added.

Margaret has been busy since the project began in April, far surpassing her projected total of 10,000 figures, and has been to schools all over Limerick - including several visits to Shane’s schools, Crescent College and Ballybrown NS - as well as setting up stands at the Limerick Show, Pig N’ Porter festival, Milford Harvest Fair and Shane’s former workplace, aircraft maintenance operation, Air Atlanta.

The intention was that the project would be a “fitting way to keep Shane’s memory and to help all innocent victims of violence”, Margaret explained at its inception.

“This will be inclusive of everyone, and it is creative - qualities Shane had in abundance,” said Margaret, who has seen well-known artists and Taoiseach Enda Kenny model a clay statue for the project.

Reflecting this week, Margaret said the project touched a lot of people.

“People who have lost loved ones in many different ways used this project, came in and talked to us and were delighted to be involved,” she explained. “I have had messages from all over the world about this and it has been enlightening and poignant, the feeling of helping people with grief.”

The exhibition will open in Istabraq Hall on Wednesday, November 9.