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Player Focus: Anthony Foley

Player Focus: Anthony Foley

Ireland number eight Anthony Foley – who recounts his 1995 debut try as “a cheeky one” – will take to Lansdowne Road on Sunday for his 60th appearance in a green jersey.

Ireland number eight Anthony Foley – who recounts his 1995 debut try as “a cheeky one” – will take to Lansdowne Road on Sunday for his 60th appearance in a green jersey.

The Munster forward – who scored the first of his five international tries against England just over ten years ago – remains to the forefront of Ireland’s Championship charge, at 31.

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Not matter what happens on Sunday, the Clare man knows his career will always be entwined with the men-in-white. While scoring on his debut against the English, he also picked up his 50th cap in last season’s 19-13 win at Twickenham – so if anyone should know how to play the auld enemy, it’s Ireland’s most capped number eight.

“You only have to look at two years ago to see how you can get your fingers burned by the English,” claims Foley. “You just cannot afford to take England lightly. They’re still the World champions.

“They’ve lost a couple of games but only by small margins and at times, they’ve looked very much in control. We’ve got to be on our guard and go out and play our own game.”
Ireland – under Gerry Murphy – were looking for a hat-trick of wins against England, following successes in 1993 (17-3, Lansdowne Road) and 1994 (13-12, Twickenham), but it was not to be despite Foley’s second-half try.

“Ah, it was a cheeky one. Niall Woods began the move, we pressed his chip-and-chase. They gave away a penalty and I managed to get the ball and fall over the line,” was Foley’s judgement on his opening international party-piece.

With the chance of doubling up on 2004’s west London win, Foley is keen to point out that Eddie O’Sullivan’s men expect a fired-up England to be seeking revenge.

“We know England are determined to give a good account of themselves. They’re under pressure and we’re expecting a backlash.

Ireland’s top-tackler (5) in the 40-13 win over Scotland a fortnight ago, bar Shane Horgan, Foley knows his ten years in the Test game have brought about many changes. And he credits the IRFU’s ten-week pre-season for Ireland’s current good stead in the Championship, with two wins from two.

“We had a good pre-season. Now everything is geared around us doing well for the provinces and the national team. It’s a great time to be a player in Ireland at the moment – everything is geared towards the highest level,” said Foley – whose wife Olive is expecting the couple’s first child on May 27.

“It’s a very competitive squad – at times you can lose one or two players but then other class ones can step in and do a job. It’s a very strong, settled squad but also very competitive at the same time.”

Competition which has seen Foley hit the heights for both Munster and Ireland, and in line for the golden chalice of a Lions berth on the tour to New Zealand in June.


Anthony Gerard Foley
Date of Birth: 30/10/1973; Place of Birth: Killahoe, County Clare
Height: 6ft 3in
Weight: 17 stone 4 lbs
Position: Number eight
Club/Province: Shannon/Munster
Ireland Caps: 59; Ireland Points: 25 (5 tries)
Scoring Record: 1995: 1 try v England, 2001: 1 try v Romania, 2002: 1 try v Fiji, 2004: 1 try v France, 1 try v Wales


Anthony Foley is one of only two current players who were involved in 1995’s Five Nations meeting at Lansdowne Road. Long-standing England loosehead prop Graham Rowntree was an un-used substitute in Dublin ten years ago.

Five Nations Championship: January 21, 1995:
Ireland 8 England 20, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Anthony Foley; Pen: Paul Burke
England: Tries: Ben Clark, Tony Underwood, Will Carling; Con: Rob Andrew; Pen: Andrew

Ireland: Conor O’Shea; Simon Geoghegan, Brendan Mullin (Capt), Phillip Danaher, Niall Woods; Paul Burke, Niall Hogan; Nick Popplewell, Keith Wood, Peter Clohessy, Mick Galwey, Neil Francis, David Corkery, Paddy Johns, Anthony Foley.
Subs: Terry Kingston, Gary Halpin, Gabriel Fulcher, Alain Rolland, Eric Elwood, Maurice Field.

Referee: Patrick Thomas (France). HT: Ireland 3 England 12