He was a member of the Munster team that won the 2002–03 Celtic League and was the winning captain during their 2005–06 Heineken Cup success.
Foley played for Ireland from 1995 to 2005, and captained the squad on three separate occasions.
Foley made his professional debut for Munster against Swansea in November 1995, a game that was also Munster's first ever Heineken Cup fixture.
He was in the Munster team that lost 8–9 to Northampton Saints in the 2000 Heineken Cup Final, and was again the runner-up when Munster lost 15–9 to Leicester Tigers in the 2002 Heineken Cup Final. Foley was finally on the winning side when Munster won the 2002–03 Celtic League.
When Mick Galwey resigned as Munster captain, Foley narrowly lost to Jim Williams in a vote to decide the next captain.
When Williams left Munster in 2005, Foley became the new captain, and in his first season in the position, he led Munster to victory over Biarritz Olympique in the 2006 Heineken Cup Final.
Foley had played in all but one of Munster's first 78 Heineken Cup games until a shoulder injury sustained during Munster's 21–19 victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road in their first game of the 2006–07 Heineken Cup caused him to miss his sides subsequent victory over Bourgoin, as well as back-to-back games against Cardiff in December 2006.
He stood down as captain at the beginning of the 2007–08 season, making way for Paul O'Connell. He was dropped for Munster's final fixtures of the 2007–08 Heineken Cup, and announced his retirement for the end of the season.
Foley made his debut for Ireland against England in the 1995 Five Nations Championship on 21 January 1995. He scored a try on his debut in an 8-20 defeat. He went to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, and played as a replacement in one pool game against Japan which Ireland won 50-28.
He missed the 1999 Rugby World Cup, but was selected for the 2003 Rugby World Cup, featuring in two of the pool games against Romania and Australia.
Foley captained Ireland three times: in 2001 against Samoa, and in 2002 against Romania and Georgia. His last international was against Wales in the 2005 Six Nations.
In total Foley played in 62 matches for Ireland and scored 5 tries against England in 1995, Romania in 2001, Fiji in 2002, France in 2004, and Wales in 2004.
In March 2011, it was announced that Foley would take over as Munster forwards coach at the end of the 2011 season. He temporarily replaced Gert Smal as Ireland's forwards coach during the 2012 Six Nations Championship, after Smal was forced to miss the remainder of the tournament with an eye condition.
Foley signed a contract extension with Munster in May 2013.
The following year it was announced that Foley would succeed Rob Penney as Munster's head coach, signing a two-year contract that began on 1 July 2014.
Foley became head coach of Munster when Rassie Erasmus came in as Director of Rugby in July 2016.
He was married to Olive; the couple had two children.
His father Brendan Foley and sister Rosie Foley also played rugby for Ireland. Foley played Gaelic football for his local GAA club Smith O'Briens in the parish of Killaloe, County Clare. He lined out for Smith O'Briens GAA club in a Munster junior club football semi-final in 2010. He played inter-county hurling for Clare at underage level alongside former Munster rugby player Keith Wood.
Foley died in his sleep on Sunday 16 October 2016, while staying at a hotel in the Paris suburb of Suresnes with the Munster squad; heart disease had caused an acute pulmonary oedema. The team was preparing to face Racing 92 in its opening game of the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup.
The match was postponed as a result of Foley's death.
President Michael D. Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny made tributes to Foley, and the Irish flag flew at half mast at government buildings in Munster.
His body was returned to Killaloe for his funeral and burial which took place on 21 October.
Rest in peace young man.