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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 20 October 2020

Anthony Foley, the ESPN editor who joined the priesthood, and the rest of the week's best sportswriting

Put your feet up and dive into some of the best pieces of writing we’ve enjoyed over the past week.

Munster legend Anthony Foley.
Munster legend Anthony Foley.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. His first night at senior training, he remembers being rattled by a huge hit from Paddy ‘The Iron Man’ McCormack. Fenning’s instant retaliation was, above all, an act of survival.

“At the time, Tullamore lads would have been considered kind of beans and chips men rather than bacon and cabbage,” he chuckles. “So I had to stand my ground. I was only 19 and McCormack called me ‘a pup’. But I just said to him ‘Paddy, you’re not going to be f***ing hitting me here without being given it back!’”

Offaly legend Paddy Fenning talks to The Irish Independent’s Vincent Hogan about his playing days, and his battle with motor neuron disease.

2. Not too long after, my phone rang, and I answered. It was Michael O’Leary. “I’ve a 60-seater at hand wherever and whenever you need it,” he said.

Michael took personal charge of all the flight details, he liased with our local undertaker John Lynch and with Amanda Bane in Paris. Ryanair had never repatriated a body from France before. It was amazing to see the kindness of people, moving heaven and earth to make sure everything was done right.

Our flight from Shannon to Paris to bring Anthony home contained both Mick Galwey and Paul O’Connell – one was Munster captain before Anthony and the other was captain after him. It was a Munster guard of honour for my brother – a true Munster Man.

Rosie Foley, sister of Munster legend Anthony, talks childhood memories, the importance of rugby to the Foley family, and the events surrounding Anthony’s untimely death in 2016 for The Sport’s Chronicle.

a-view-of-thomond-park-as-the-two-teams-stand-for-a-minutes-silence-in-memory-of-anthony-foley Munster supporters pay tribute to Anthony Foley before a game against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3He drove to his parents’ house.

“And woke them up — maybe, like, 4:30 a.m. — and I told them what happened,” Federico says. “And they were like, ‘OK, this’ll blow over.’ And it did not.”

That became clear a few hours later when Federico got a call from his boss.

“He’s like, ‘Don’t turn on your phone. Don’t look at the web. Don’t look at anything. It’s bad,’ ” Federico recalls. “And I asked, ‘How bad is it?’ And he said, ‘It’s bad.’ “

Martin Kessler talks to the former ESPN editor who joined the priesthood, for Only A Game.

4. Like all superclubs, Barcelona has to win. Like all superclubs, it has to win with style, or at least something that can be spun into style. Unlike all of the others, though, Barcelona has to match up — in its own mind, and in those of its fans — to a very specific image of what it was, just a few short years ago. It has to make them feel as they did then.

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In The New York Times, Rory Smith looks at the reasons why Barcelona decided to part with Ernesto Valverde’s services despite being top of La Liga.

liverpool-v-barcelona-uefa-champions-league-semi-final-second-leg-anfield Ernesto Valverde paid the price for the style of football he employed at Barcelona. Source: Peter Byrne

5. African Americans throughout the history of this country have been told that we needed to conform, to assimilate. That we needed to be less street, be less hip-hop, be less hood. Just be less. We had to be less of ourselves in order to make the majority feel comfortable. For Stuart to come along and be every bit as good and professional, as sharp, as polished as any broadcaster doing it, but yet still be able to be as authentic and connected and representative of the culture as he was—it was just incredible.

Bryan Curtis looks backs on the life of ‘SportsCentre’ anchor Stuart Scott, with those who knew him best, for The Ringer.

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