Saturday, October 22, 2016


Anthony Gerard Foley (30 October 1973 – 16 October 2016) was an Irish rugby union player and head coach of Munster. He was attached to the same squad during his entire professional playing career.
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.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Seamus Coleman's first international goal gave the Republic of Ireland a narrow victory over Georgia in their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Dublin.
Coleman, 27, made a strong run down the right, cut into the box and slotted home after the ball ricocheted into his path thanks to two fortunate rebounds.
It was a victory which the Irish barely deserved from a match which produced little creativity and goalmouth action.
The Republic are one of four Group D teams with four points from two games.

Austria and Wales drew 2-2 in Vienna and Serbia won 3-0 in Moldova in Thursday's other two Group D encounters - suggesting this could be a very competitive group.

For Martin O'Neill's men, this match and Sunday's game with Moldova represent an important few days in their quest to reach the finals in Russia, with anything less than six points a blow to their qualification hopes.
With only the group winners guaranteed an automatic place in the finals, the chance to pick up maximum points against the supposed two weakest teams in the group is crucial to Ireland's ambitions of qualifying for a first World Cup finals since 2002.
The Republic had won all of their previous seven contests with the Georgians, six of them in competitive fixtures, including two one-goal victories in the qualifiers for Euro 2016.
But on Thursday, Georgia, who had lost 2-1 at home to Austria in their opening group game, posed the greater threat in a largely uninspiring first half.
Valeri Kazaishvilli turned and fired a left-foot shot wide of the post in the 17th minute and then the visitors struck the woodwork twice in quick succession with eight minutes of the half remaining.
Levan Mchedlidze thundered a header off the crossbar and when the home side failed to clear, the ball fell to Guram Kashia, whose looping header back over Darren Randolph bounced off the post.
Under-strength Republic battle to three points
The game was the Republic's first since O'Neill signed a deal to continue as manager until the end of the present campaign - and their first competitive home game since reaching the last 16 of Euro 2016.
They started their qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw in Belgrade last month but Daryl Murphy, the man whose late goal earned them a draw against Serbia, was among eight players ruled out through injury.
Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, Harry Arter, Stephen Quinn, Kevin Doyle, Aiden McGeady, Anthony Pilkington and Marc Wilson were also absent.
And against a stubborn Georgian side it took an improved second-half performance for O'Neill's team to secure a third win in their last 10 matches.
The Irish showed greater intensity after the resumption and Coleman's strike gave them the boost they needed but scarcely deserved on the balance of play.
James McClean had a header ruled out for offside and the lively West Brom winger later saw another effort cannon off the underside of the bar during a lengthy spell of injury-time caused by a head injury to Robbie Brady, who was forced to retire hurt after receiving treatment following a clash of heads with Georgia defender Solomon Kverkvelia.
The Football Association of Ireland later said Brady was conscious in the dressing room but went to hospital as a precaution for a scan.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Dublin retained the All-Ireland SFC title for the first time in 39 years with a tense one-point replay final victory over Mayo at Croke Park.
A dramatic rematch lived up to expectations as Sam Maguire stays in the capital. With the 1-15 to 1-14 win, the Boys in Blue become the first Dublin team to claim back-to-back All-Irelands since the victorious sides of 1976-77.

The game had numerous highlights, with each side losing important players to black cards, while Diarmuid Connolly slotted away a second-half penalty for the Dubs.

After a fiery first half, Dublin led by one at break, 0-10 to 1-6, in front of a crowd of 82,249.

There was drama even prior to the opening whistle as Dublin boss Jim Gavin made three switches with Paddy Andrews in for Bernard Brogan, Paul Mannion replacing Michael Darragh Macauley, while Michael Fitzsimons came in for David Byrne. Mannion played in a forward role with Paul Flynn roaming closer to midfield. Contrary to pre-match speculation, Kevin McManamon retained his starting place.

Mayo also made a late change with keeper Rob Hennelly taking over from David Clarke between the posts in a surprise move from manager Stephen Rochford.

The Dubs started well, kicking four points between the fourth and sixth minutes, with Dean Rock back on form from dead balls after struggling at times during the drawn game.

Rock kicked all but two of Dublin’s first-half tally – Connolly and McManamon scoring the others - while they managed to survive the loss to Johnny Cooper to a 20th-minute black card, with Byrne taking his place.

Mayo scored the opening goal two minutes prior to that as Aidan O’Shea set up Lee Keegan to raise a green flag, but the Connacht side lost the latter to a black card on the stroke of half-time.

Tempers threatened to spill over in the aftermath of that call from referee Maurice Deegan, who played over eight minutes of first-half injury-time due to the lengthy delay caused by a number of incidents.

Keegan’s departure was bad news for Mayo as he had once again been assigned to mark Dubs star forward Connolly – although the St Vincent’s man was one of three players booked just before the break, along with Mayo’s Donal Vaughan and Dublin defender John Small.
Small could count himself lucky to stay on the field after TV replays appeared to show him tripping Andy Moran.

If there wasn’t enough excitement in the first half, the second period delivered even more.

Mayo had scored two points through Cillian O’Connor and Conor O’Shea to take the lead, but a high ball in from Flynn on top of Hennelly caused real trouble for the Mayo keeper.
He spilled the ball to Paddy Andrews and then took down the Dublin forward, the keeper earning himself a black card.

Mayo had scored two points through Cillian O’Connor and Conor O’Shea to take the lead, but a high ball in from Flynn on top of Hennelly caused real trouble for the Mayo keeper.
He spilled the ball to Paddy Andrews and then took down the Dublin forward, the keeper earning himself a black card.

It looked like the Dubs had their opponents on the ropes at this stage, with Brogan introduced for Andrews while Macauley came on for Mannion as it seemed Gavin wanted his men to close out the game.
But Mayo continued to fight and they scored two points while holding Dublin scoreless for 12 minutes before Brogan got the Dubs back on track.
It was a one-point game on 56 minutes after Patrick Durcan kicked a super point for Mayo, but Dublin sub Cormac Costello proved to be a great introduction as he kicked two points just minutes after coming on.
O’Connor once again put the minimum between the sides with less than five minutes left in normal time, converting his eighth free of the match.

But with his biggest kick of the match, nearly six minutes into injury-time, O’Connor’s shooting boots failed him as he put a free wide when in a position to draw the contest as he did two weeks ago.

And the Dubs held on retain their title with a one-point win.

So the agonizing sixty five year wait goes on for never-say-die  Mayo.

Friday, September 30, 2016


Stephen Kenny's side became the first SSE Airtricity League team to win a European group stage fixture thanks to Ciaran Kilduff's second-half winner

Dundalk remain unbeaten in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League after vanquishing Maccabi Tel Aviv at Tallaght Stadium.
After a first-half in which the Lilywhites outplayed their Israeli visitors, Ciaran Kilduff repeated the feat he performed in Alkmaar by arriving off the bench to tap home a deserved second-half winner.

On his return to Tallaght Stadium, the former Shamrock Rovers striker scored just seven minutes after replacing striker David McMillan, registering in the process arguably the most iconic strike in his current club’s history.

Midfielder Patrick McEleney did extremely well to pick out Daryl Horgan with a well-timed cross-field pass that found the wily winger in space inside the Maccabi box.
After feigning to drive towards the byline, the 24-year-old cut back on his right foot before finding Kilduff waiting graciously inside the six-yard box to guide the ball first-time past Predrag Rajkovic.

It was just reward for the Lilywhites, who had less possession and a lower pass completion rate than their Israeli opponents but ultimately enjoyed the better opportunities, with McEleney and Horgan the primary creators against more fancied opponents.

McEleney had an excellent opportunity early on, after collecting a headed McMillan flick-on, but ultimately squandered a one-on-one with Rakjovic, while Horgan failed to take advantage of excellent build-up play from left-back Dane Massey and midfielder Robbie Benson, firing a low shot straight at Rakjovic from just inside the area.

But ultimately, while the two threatened and teased at several points throughout the contest, when it came time to deliver, their execution was flawless, as the duo laid the roots for a fitting finish by Kilduff and a momentous win for Dundalk.

This win for the Lilywhites marks the first victory by an Irish club in European group stage football, and moves Stephen Kenny’s side into second place in Group D following Zenit St. Petersburg’s 4-0 home win over AZ Alkmaar.

Shota Arveladze’s side remain pointless, and have now lost their last eight European group stage fixtures.

Friday, September 16, 2016


DUNDALK made history on an epic night in Holland by coming from behind with 10-men to draw with AZ Alkmaar on their Europa League group stage debut.

Ciaran Kilduff's 89th minute header prompted pandemonium in the away section at a shocked AFAS Stadium as Stephen Kenny's side bounced back from the dismissal of captain Stephen O'Donnell to secure a famous point.

The result will boost the coffers by another €120,000 - more than the prize for winning the League of Ireland but this was all about the achievement.

And this ranks up there with the great Irish performances in Europe as Kenny's charges achieved their target of picking up points at the first attempt.

They looked in trouble after an hour of power was undone by poor decision making.

The League of Ireland champions were extremely competitive at the home of Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar but they fell behind to a goal from nothing when keeper Gary Rogers needlessly raced from his goal to cut out a long ball from centre half Rens van Eijden with AZ's Stijn Wuytens getting there quicker and suffering a blow to the head as he converted.

After a long and worrying delay, Wuytens was stretchered off and later regained consciousness in the dressing room.

The picture was rosier at the interval after a first half which fell in line with Kenny's pre-match thoughts.
He suggested that Dundalk's positive approach would lead to situations where their defence ended up in a game of 4 v 4 with AZ's pacey and youthful attackers.
However, he may not have envisaged that scenario coming to pass inside two minutes, though, and it led to a fortunate escape when Iranian Alireza Jahanbakhsh struck the post.

The League of Ireland champions steadied the ship thereafter with centre halves Andy Boyle and Brian Gartland calm and composed, and O'Donnell an influential figure. He was unlucky to pick up his first caution.

Daryl Horgan was dangerous going forward and might have given the Lilywhites a shock lead but Sergio Rochet was able to cut off his dangerous run.

Dundalk did ride their luck just before the interval when Fred Friday's close range attempt was ruled out for offside. Replays showed it was the wrong call.

That incident led to some tensions between the bench and the locals were anxious as the lowest ranked side in the competition demonstrated that they weren't phased by the step up to this level.

In that context, the soft opener was difficult to swallow and it was Dundalk that initially struggled to recover. They were seriously on the ropes when skipper O'Donnell was dismissed after a careless challenge resulted in a deserved second booking.

But Kenny's charges regrouped and his subs made a huge impact. Chris Shields' made a lung bursting run that culminated with a free kick that the wonderful Horgan set up for a towering header from Kilduff.

Nine minutes of injury time followed, but they ended with a famous Irish celebration.