The scarves and flags brought by Munster fans were accorded a different role than intended yesterday, when they were used to adorne an impromptu shrine to Anthony Foley outside Stade Yves du Manoir in north-west France.
Gus O’Loughlin, an Ennistymon native living in Cork, lamented the passing of his fellow Clare man at the age of 42.
“We are absolutely shocked. It’s unbelievable. I remember the days in Shannon and all that. He was a great family man and I’m so sorry to hear what’s happened. Very sad.
“We come to all the matches. It’s nice to get away and get out and travel with Munster, but we were up in the pub and it was a French man trying to translate to us what was happening. Eventually, I rang my wife to find out exactly what had happened.
“I couldn’t believe it. My daughter is the same. She just texted me this minute. She couldn’t believe it either.”
The Munster fans held a minute’s silence, then they clapped for a minute before belting out The Fields of Athenry and the Shannon anthem ‘There is an Isle’.
Mick Quillan is a Munster fan living in the Netherlands but is originally from Cork and had come down for another great weekend of rugby.
“We didn’t believe it when we heard the news. It’s unbelievable. It’s hard to take in. I remember his dad, Brendan, as a player. It’s a rugby family. A terrible loss.
Fionnuala McCurtain of the Munster Supporters Travel said that about 1,000 Reds fans were expected for the game against Racing 92.
“We thought it was going to be just another great Munster day out.
“Hopes were high. We were hoping of course for a good win and at worst the bonus point. Nobody expected news like this. It’s so sad.
“We found out on our way in on the coach but it wasn’t confirmed. We did arrive here and then the word was out but it wasn’t officially confirmed until all the family were notified.”
She said that supporters wanted to show their respects before leaving the ground after the game was called off as people came to terms with the terrible news. “This is life. Our sport, we must remember, much as we love it and we make it our life, it is a sport whereas this is a real life event.
“We send out sympathies to Olive, his wife, the children, his parents. It’s just horrendous.
“No parent should have to bury a child. It’s that simple. He was a young man.”
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