Charity clash sees rugby’s historic return to Markets Field

Rugby’s return to Markets Field after 58 years was originally fixed for the Charity Cup final between Young Munster and Garryowen on October 21 but the tragic passing of Anthony Foley five days before put that historic game firmly on standby.

Now, almost nine weeks on, the wait will come to an end when Young Munster and the President’s XV clash in a charity game tonight (7.30pm). Young Munster chairman Tom McCoy believes the legacy of the former Munster captain — whose family’s charity will benefit from proceedings — will add to the sense of occasion.

“Anthony Foley will give tonight’s game a new lease of life and put some meaning into the game.

“That in itself has significance. There are plenty of people who have past that would have loved to see rugby return to Markets Field. It’s hard to know (how many people will attend) but I think rugby people will come out.

While the Cookies’ president is proud that his club’s name will be etched in history as the first team to play at the ground in almost six decades, he notes his disappointment that Garryowen won’t be involved in to celebrate the return of their former home ground.

“It’s a pity that it’s not us and Garryowen. If it was, I think it would attract more but these things happen. Conan Doyle (Garryowen head coach) is getting married on Friday, they have a legitimate excuse. The branch made the decision and we’re doing what we’re told but look forget about it. It’s a night for Limerick rugby, it’s a night for charity and it’s a night for Markets Field.”

And the incumbent president is confident that tonight’s match will mean a new dawn for Limerick rugby, as the 5,000 capacity ground offers clubs and schools another venue, something that has been a scarcity in the county.

“I’m hoping this match will spell a new era for Limerick. This is a new, worthwhile venture. There aren’t many grounds in Limerick outside the clubs’ grounds and it’s getting harder for clubs to give their pitches up for schools games. Tomorrow is about testing the water in regards as where the future lies.

“Markets Field signed a contract with Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership for rugby to return there. So it’s not just a once off game.”

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