'I'd give up everything to have Axel back': Jerry Flannery

Munster legend recalls 'surreal experience'

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

'I'd give up everything to have Axel back': Jerry Flannery

Jerry Flannery, centre, after the Glasgow game at Thomond Park, remembering Foley Picture: Sportsfile

MUNSTER scrum coach and former Munster and Ireland star Jerry Flannery has opened up about the “surreal” experience when he had to break the news of Anthony Foley’s death to the rugby community.

The former international hooker spoke of the solidarity amongst the rugby community, Axel Foley’s influence, and the resilience of the squad since the passing of the head coach.

Anthony Foley died, aged 42, on October 16 in Paris, where the Munster team was due to play Racing Metro 92.

In an interview with Newstalk on Tuesday night, Flannery said that he was “on autopilot” on the day of Foley’s passing when breaking the news to past and present players.

“It was more like watching someone else do it, because it’s something that you would have never thought of. We were sitting there and we were just going: ‘What do we have to do here?’ I wasn’t emotional or anything at the time. It was like crisis management on the day of when Axel had passed, and just trying to manage things. And it was so weird, I was drawing up a Munster team, a Shannon team, and going through who I needed to ring and let them know, first and foremost.”

Flannery spoke of the “amazing” European Cup win against Glasgow, just days after the passing of the legendary number 8 star. 

“To see how mentally tough that group of players were when they played against Glasgow that week we buried Axel. It was incredible and it will be there for the rest of my life.”

He also recalled the support the ex-players gave to the team after beating the Glaswegians 38-17 at Thomond Park.

He added: “I just spent a lot of time thinking about how this guy, who has always been part of my life, and someone I have always looked up to and kind of aspired to, is now gone. And I never would have thought about Axel like that until he actually passed.

“I would happily give up everything that we had here to have Axel back with us. He was the guy who wanted Munster to win, more than anything.”