Munster honors dead coach with pre-match tribute, big win

BY foxsports • October 22, 2016

LIMERICK, Ireland (AP) With an emotional pre-match tribute and a spirited win with 14 men, Munster did all it could Saturday to honor Anthony Foley a week after the sudden death of its popular coach.

Munster beat Glasgow 38-17 in a European Champions Cup game as the Irish rugby province returned to action at its Thomond Park ground, six days after Foley died from fluid in the lungs caused by a heart condition. He was 42.

Determined to honor their coach with a victory, Munster's players produced a gutsy performance in tough circumstances - and wasn't troubled by loss of winger Keith Earls to a red card midway in the 19th minute because of a tip tackle.

No. 8 - Foley's number as a player - was retired for the game, with C.J. Stander wearing No. 24 instead.

Before kickoff, spectators in one of the stands held up placards which spelt out Foley's nickname, ''Axel,'' along with the No. 8 jersey that he wore with such distinction for Munster and Ireland. All of the Munster players' jerseys had ''AXEL'' sewn on under the club crest.

Irish soprano Sinead O'Brien joined the Munster Rugby Supporters' Club Choir to perform ''Stand Up And Fight,'' and young players from Foley's former club, Shannon RFC, and students representing his school formed a guard of honor as the teams ran out.

There was an impeccably observed minute's silence before play began.

Foley's funeral, which was attended by hundreds of mourners, took place on Friday.

Foley, a Munster great who represented Ireland 62 times, was found dead in the early hours of Sunday in a Paris hotel, ahead of a European match against Racing 92 in the French capital that day. That match was canceled.

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