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Anthony Foley left 'indelible, affirming marks', mourners told at funeral for Ireland rugby great

Published 21/10/2016

The funeral of Anthony Foley at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co Clare.
The funeral of Anthony Foley at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co Clare.
The funeral of Anthony Foley at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co Clare.
Glasgow Warriros Gregor Townsend (centre left) and assistant coach Dan McFarland at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
Former Ireland and Munster captain Paul O'Connell at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
Anthony Foley's coffin is carried into St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
Anthony Foley's coffin arrives at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday October 21, 2016. See PA story SPORT Foley. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Former Ireland player Brian O'Driscoll (right) looks on as Anthony Foley's coffin arrives at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
Anthony Foley's father Brendan (left) greets Donncha O'Callaghan outside St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
Former Ireland and Munster player Mick Galwey at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
Munster's CJ Stander (left) alongside former Munster players Ronan O'Gara (centre) and Mick Galwey awaits the arrival of the hearse at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare.
The funeral of Anthony Foley at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co Clare.
The funeral of Anthony Foley at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co Clare.
Former Ireland and Munster captain Paul O'Connell at St Flannan's Church, Killaloe, Co. Clare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday October 21, 2016. See PA story SPORT Foley. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Anthony Foley left 'indelible, affirming marks', mourners told at funeral for rugby great
Anthony Foley left 'indelible, affirming marks', mourners told at funeral for rugby great
Anthony Foley left 'indelible, affirming marks', mourners told at funeral for rugby great

Irish rugby star Anthony Foley has been remembered at his funeral for the warm, indelible marks he left on life.

The Munster head coach died, aged 42, in a hotel in Paris, just hours before the team were due to play Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup last Sunday.

His coffin was carried into St Flannan's Church in his home town of Killaloe in Co Clare to the Toreador Song from Bizet's opera Carmen, adopted by Munster Rugby for the club's anthem Stand Up And Fight.

Players from the province, past and present, formed a guard of honour inside the church grounds.

Among them were former Irish and Munster stars Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara and Peter Stringer, along with ex-Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll.

Hundreds of other mourners packed into the church and surrounding streets.

Foley is survived by widow Olive and sons Tony and Dan.

In a moving homily, Father Pat Malone, a family friend, spoke about Foley with glowing sentiment.

"It is fitting that we celebrate with dignity the life and achievements of a man who lived life with great dignity and personal and professional integrity," he said.

The priest said his personal, lasting memory of the rugby great was as a family man.

Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PA
Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PA
Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Crowds line the street as a hearse carrying the coffin of Shannon and Munster Rugby club's head coach Anthony Foley passes Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Players from Shannon and Munster Rugby clubs wait outside Thomond park in Limerick for the remains of Munster's head coach Anthony Foley to pass by the stadium on their way to his family home. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A woman views tributes to Munster Rugby Coach Anthony Foley At Thomond Park in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Munster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes to Munster Rugby Coach Anthony Foley at Thomond Park in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Munster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes to Munster Rugby Coach Anthony Foley At Thomond Park in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Munster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes to Munster Rugby Coach Anthony Foley At Thomond Park in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Munster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
School children look at tributes to Munster Rugby Coach Anthony Foley At Thomond Park in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Munster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People leave tributes to Munster Rugby Coach Anthony Foley At Thomond Park in Limerick. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Munster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People queue to sign a book of condolence for former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley at Limerick Council offices, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A Munster Rugby fan pays tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A Munster Rugby fan pays tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans pay tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans pay tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTING CORRECTING FIRST NAME TO ANNA Munster Rugby fan Anna O'Neill (left) pays tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTING CORRECTING FIRST NAME TO ANNA Munster Rugby fan Anna O'Neill pays tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans Dermot Kelly and Tom Galvin (right) pay tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A Leinster flag amongst tributes to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby players pay tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fan Ann O'Neill (left) pays tribute to former Ireland and Munster star Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park in Limerick, after the 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 17, 2016. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
File photo dated 20/12/15 of Munster's head coach Anthony Foley, as rugby fans and members of the public are paying personal tributes to the former Ireland and Munster star. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 17, 2016. The 42-year-old head coach was found dead in the province's team hotel in Paris on Sunday, hours before the team were due to take to the pitch in the European Champions Cup. See PA story DEATH Foley. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
File photo dated 17-01-2015 of Munster's Head Coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 17, 2016. The world of rugby has united to pay tribute to Munster head coach Anthony Foley, who has died at the age of 42. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read Nigel French/PA Wir
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby queue to sign a book of condolances at Shannon Rugby Club in Thomond Park, Limerick, after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Exeter Chiefs and Clermont Auvergne respect a minutes silence for Munster coach Anthony Foley before the European Champions Cup, pool five match at Sandy Park, Exeter. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Exeter. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Former Irish rugby star and coach Anthony Foley
Exeter Chiefs and Clermont Auvergne respect a minutes silence for Munster coach Anthony Foley before the European Champions Cup, pool five match at Sandy Park, Exeter. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 16, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Exeter. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
File photo dated 08-03-2003 of Ireland's David Humpheys (left) and Anthony Foley (right) celebrate their team's victory against France, during the RBS 6 Nations Championship match at Ireland's Lansdowne Road stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 16, 2016. Anthony Foley has died at the team hotel in Paris before their European Champions Cup tie against Racing 92, the Irish club have announced. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read Tom Hevezi/PA Wire.
File photo dated 14-05-2005 of Munster captain Anthony Foley (L) and manager Alan Gaffney celebrate with the Celtic Cup after beating Llanelli Scarlets. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 16, 2016. Munster head coach Anthony Foley has died at the team hotel in Paris, the Irish club have announced. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read Haydn West/PA Wire.
File photo dated 20-05-2006 of Munster captain Anthony Foley lifts the Heineken Cup following the Heineken Cup final against Biarritz at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 16, 2016. Munster head coach Anthony Foley has died at the team hotel in Paris before their European Champions Cup tie against Racing 92, the Irish club have announced. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read David Davies/PA Wire.
File photo dated 20-03-2004 of Ireland's Anthony Foley wins the RBS man-of-the-match award following their RBS 6 Nations match against Italy at Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Ireland won 19-3. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 16, 2016. Munster head coach Anthony Foley has died at the team hotel in Paris, the Irish club have announced. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read Nick Potts/PA Wire.
File photo dated 14-05-2005 of Munster captain Anthony Foley celebrates with the Celtic Cup after beating Llanelli Scarlets. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday October 16, 2016. Munster head coach Anthony Foley has died at the team hotel in Paris before their European Champions Cup tie against Racing 92, the Irish club have announced. See PA story RUGBYU Foley. Photo credit should read Haydn West/PA Wire.

"His family meant all to him," he said.

"Olive, you were his true love, and how good you were together.

"One could sense the strength of your relationship, the warmth of your love for each other, and the ways you supported each other through the easy as well as the difficult moments of life.

"You complimented each other so well, yin and yang in perfect valve with each other.

Fr Malone said the couple were second to none as parents and spoke about Foley's love for his children.

"He was silently assessing their temperament for future sporting engagement."

Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby queue to sign a book of condolances at Shannon Rugby Club in Thomond Park, Limerick, after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley.Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Munster Rugby fans place tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Tributes outside Thomond Park in Limerick placed by Munster Rugby fans after the death of head coach Anthony Foley. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Players stand for a minutes silence in memory of Munster head coach and former Irish international Anthony Foley who died today in a Paris hotel during the European Rugby Champions Cup rugby union match between Exeter Chiefs and Clermont Auvergne at Sandy Park Stadium in Exeter, south west England, on October 16, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Geoff CADDICKGEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on October 16, 2016 shows a Munster flag and flowers hanging at the grid of the Yves du Manoir stadium in Colombes, outside Paris, in tribute to Munster head coach Anthony Foley who died suddenly. Munster head coach Anthony Foley died suddenly in Paris on Sunday, at the age of 42, causing the Irish province's European Champions Cup match against Racing 92 to be postponed. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
EXETER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 16: A minutes silence is held in memory of Munster Head Coach Anothony Foley who passed away at the age of 42 during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and ASM Clermont Auvergne at Sandy Park on October 16, 2016 in Exeter, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans place flowers and flags as a mark of respect after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans sign a book of condolence after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans sing the Munster anthem, The Fields of Anthenry as a mark of respect after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: A Munster fan signs a book of condolence after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Match officials, including the referee Wayne Barnes (R) look dejected after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans in tears after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans take part in a minutes applause as a mark of respect after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans console each other after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans tie Munster flags to the railings of the stadium after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: A Munster fan signs a book of condolence after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 16: Munster fans sign a book of condolence after hearing of the news of the death of Munster coach Anthony Foley prior to the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Munster at Stade Yves-Du-Manoir on October 16, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In some of the most moving tributes, the priest praised Foley's open-hearted nature.

"What touched me most in all the statements I heard or read about Anthony in the past week is the amount of care he offered to so, so many different people," he said.

"He had that great human capacity to sense or notice those who were struggling in one way or another and the ability to reach out to them and include them in a sensitive and caring way.

"That outreach made all the difference to these people.

"He offered people hope when they felt hopeless, confidence when they were deflated and simply wished them on when they were unable to do it themselves."

Fr Malone added: "His presence was reassuring, his ability to care, his sheer support, his sense of camaraderie, made all the difference and - to borrow from from another famous football anthem - knowing Anthony's presence, you knew 'You'll never walk alone'.

"Anthony 'Axel' Foley made many a mark in his 42 short years of life.

"Just look around and see; the indelible, warm, affirming marks he left in family, friends, colleagues, sports fans, this local community, rugby wherever it is spoken."

Fr Malone referenced the "incomprehensible darkness" Foley's widow had spoken of since his death.

He said Foley's love should shine a light on the family's grief.

In a brief moment of levity, he added: "I am fairly certain God could do with a top-class Number 8."

Foley died from a build-up of fluid on his lungs as a result of heart disease.

On the rugby field he was a record-breaker with Munster and an integral part of their two Heineken Cup wins in the last decade.

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