Munster players remember coach Paul

A CELEBRATION in Limerick for the Munster rugby team was last night led into a time of sad reflection by team captain Paul O’Connell.

At a civic reception at Limerick City Hall to mark the team’s victory in the Magners League, Paul dwelt on memories of their fitness coach, Paul Darbyshire, who died last month from Motor Neurone disease.

The team captain told a hushed gathering that Paul, who was aged 41, had a lifelong ambition of playing for his own rugby league team in Warrington.

Paul recalled: “He achieved that goal and played 12 years for Warrington and went on to coach them.

“Four seasons ago, Paul Darbyshire came to coach us. When we went to his funeral last week, he was wearing a Munster polo jersey and tracksuit in his coffin. There were no Warrington flags but just the flag of Munster and that was the effect his short time in Munster had on him.”

At his funeral, his wife Lyndsay asked Ronan O’Gara to mention the Munster anthem of “Stand Up and Fight”.

Paul said this showed the effect Munster and the sporting tradition had on Paul Darbyshire.

Mayor of Limerick Cllr Jim Long said Munster rugby was a major part of the Limerick economy, filling hotels, bars and restaurants when big games were played at Thomond Park.

Cllr Long said; “When Munster win, we all win. You are seen as more than a team, you are our family. While you have relatively short careers in rugby, the impact you have on peoples lives is ever lasting and this is a major achievement.”

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