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'He was a big, soft man, a jovial man who always saw the light side of things'

Ballygunner honoured the memory of Paul Foley by claiming victory in Sunday’s Waterford senior hurling final.

Image: INPHO

AFTER ALL THEY’VE been through, nobody would have begrudged Ballygunner success in Sunday’s Waterford senior hurling championship final.

Paul Foley would have loved it, the club’s vice-chairman Frank King smiles, but unfortunately he wasn’t around to see the Gunners claiming back-to-back titles.

The recent passing of Foley plunged the club into a period of deep mourning but Sunday’s win provided a chink of light, and hope, for people still trying to come to terms with his untimely passing.

“A little bit of light relief,” King told The42 today.

“With the bad news we’ve had, it was something positive.”

And ‘Foley’, as he was affectionately known, would have loved a day like this.

A tough, tight encounter in which Ballygunner were pushed all the way by Tallow.

“He’d be himself, the same as he always was, slagging fellas after the match, in great form,” says King.

“I knew him very well, he was a grand fella.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“He was a big, soft man, a jovial man who always saw the light side of things.

“Very generous with his time and everything else. I’m very sad, as well as everyone else.

“He came to us from Stradbally, he was on the Waterford minor team and he played on the Waterford senior team for a bit.

“He was on all our teams and when he finished that, he became chairman of the juvenile section of the club, and contributed a lot.

“After that, he became a referee and had been accepted onto the Munster panel.

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“He was an all rounder and gave great support. He had a great attitude to life, I thought, never showed any signs of anything wrong with him.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“Naturally, I give the team great credit for pulling themselves together.

“After it happened, it put hurling in its place. I’m there since the foundation of the club (1954) and hurling took a secondary place when I thought of what happened.”

Foley was in minds of each and every Ballygunner player when they pulled on their shirts for the county semi-final against Fourmilewater, and the final clash with Tallow.

They did it for him and while putting emotion to one side and concentrating on process for a couple of hours was a difficult thing to do, they managed it as best they could.

“You have to get on with it but no doubt it was in the back of everybody’s minds,” King acknowledged.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“I don’t think it went out of anybody’s mind but for everybody, it was about trying to contain it for as long as they could.

“They felt they should win the match for him but it’s a very sensitive time for Paul’s wife Karen and the children too.

“You have to be careful how you go about things. You must remember them as well because you don’t want to draw any more unnecessary pain on them.”

Victory for Ballygunner has propelled the 2001 champions into another Munster club campaign.

On Sunday, 8 November, they’ll tackle Glen Rovers in the provincial semi-final.

“We have to improve a bit from yesterday’s performance. I think they won the championship without showing their capabilities, they’re capable of a lot more,” King added.

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