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A day of raw emotion awaits for Munster at a passionate Thomond Park

After a week in which it has been so hard to find the right words, we can find solace in the rugby.

Munster v Glasgow

Thomond Park, 1pm

ONE CAN ONLY imagine what will be going through the heads of Munster’s players this morning.

A funeral to say goodbye to their friend Anthony Foley yesterday in Killaloe, with masses of people once again turning out to pay tribute to a legend.

Now, Munster’s squad must confront a Champions Cup clash at Thomond Park – a place littered with memories of ‘Axel.’

Tributes are paid to Anthony Foley outside Thomond Park Thomond Park will pay tribute to Axel. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

While we can all agree that the result is ultimately meaningless, it’s certain that Munster’s players will feel they must represent the jersey that meant so much to Foley as best they possibly can.

Their stores of energy will surely be low after a week that has been dominated by shock and grief at Foley’s untimely passing. A full Thomond Park, packed with passionate rugby people, will look to drive Peter O’Mahony and his team-mates through 80 testing minutes.

Glasgow’s position in all of this is tricky.

Gregor Townsend understands how Munster works, appreciates all that Foley meant to the province and organisation. He must fear the emotional backlash but he will also press upon his players that opportunity beckons for an away win.

But first and foremost, this occasion is about honouring Anthony Foley. Munster have asked supporters to get into the stadium early for the 1pm kick-off, with special tributes planned for the former number eight.

Anthony Foley arrives Foley loved Thomond Park. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Even imagining the famous roar of Thomond Park lifted by the emotion in the crowd this afternoon brings goosebumps. For those outside Foley’s circle of family and close friends, this is their opportunity to bid farewell to a man who gave them so many days in the sun, and a man who shared some pain with them along the way.

Foley would have enjoyed seeing the Limerick venue full again, the stands and terraces packed with red.

Filling Thomond Park every weekend was a goal he pursued relentlessly, that relationship with the supporters being something that always drove him and his fellow members of the Munster core.

Munster’s number eight jersey has been retired for the day, with CJ Stander instead wearing 24 on his back.

The Ireland international is a man who carries on the legacy of pride in the red shirt, much like O’Mahony and Tommy O’Donnell alongside him. In truth, this entire Munster team understands the weight of history and emotion that is in the fabric of the province.

Living up to that will be incredibly tough this afternoon, given what has unfolded in recent days, but they are likely to be thankful for this opportunity to do something, anything, to honour Foley with actions.

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Munster’s Peter O’Mahony Peter O'Mahony leads Munster this afternoon. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Everyone in Thomond Park today is likely to feel that in some way. Everyone will feel they can play their part in giving the great Shannon clubman a fitting final send-off at the stadium he loved so dearly.

After a week in which it has been so hard to find the right words, we can find some solace in the rugby.

Munster:

15. Simon Zebo
14. Darren Sweetnam
13. Jaco Taute
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Tyler Bleyendaal
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
24. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Duncan Casey
17. Brian Scott
18. Stephen Archer
19. Robin Copeland
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. Duncan Williams
22. Ian Keatley
23. Ronan O’Mahony

Glasgow:

15. Stuart Hogg
14. Sean Lamont
13. Alex Dunbar
12. Sam Johnson
11. Rory Hughes
10. Finn Russell
9. Henry Pyrgos

1. Gordon Reid
2. Fraser Brown
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Tim Swinson
5. Jonny Gray
6. Rob Harley
7. Ryan Wilson
8. Josh Strauss

Replacements:

16. Pat MacArthur
17. Alex Allan
18. Sila Puafisi
19. Lewis Wynne
20. Simone Favaro
21. Ali Price
22. Mark Bennett
23. Peter Murchie

Referee: Jerome Garces [FFR].

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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