Alan Quinlan: Anthony Foley "was someone who epitomised what is great about sport"

The Newstalk Breakfast presenter played with Foley for most of his career

Alan Quinlan: Anthony Foley "was someone who epitomised what is great about sport"

Alan Quinlan and Anthony Foley playing for Shannon in 1997. © James Meehan/INPHO

Alan Quinlan played with Anthony Foley, for club, province and country.

The two men played together for Shannon RFC winning numerous AIL honours. They were part of the team that won the Heineken Cup in 2006 and played for Ireland together in their distinguished careers.

Speaking for the first time since Foley's tragic death, the Newstalk Breakfast presenter remembered his teammate and friend as "a natural leader".

"It's been a challenging few days", Quinlan told his colleague Paul Williams. "I think it's been strange. You try and talk about sport and winning and losing. This story has shocked the sporting world. It's just disbelief at what's happened."

Anthony Foley and Alan Quinlan celebrating a win over Saracens in 1999. ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

"He was a larger than life figure. He had this persona of being a bit shy and stand-offish. He would have helped so many of us playing. He was always a calm influence and a positive influence in the dressing room. A natural leader. It was fitting that he was the one that lifted the [Heineken Cup] in 2006."

"I would have started with him in my early days with Shannon so I know him most of my life. He was someone we always looked up to. He was a standout schools player. He was someone who epitomised what is great about sport. The anxiety and nervousness that we all get - he was unique. He was really calm. He was a natural leader.

"I think the support has been incredible from sportspeople abroad, at home and people throughout all of Ireland. People are in such disbelief. It's been an incredibly challenging few days, for us as former players, but more importantly for his wife Olive.

"She's a wonderful, wonderful woman. She's there since the very start. She was always supportive of Anthony. When sportspeople are going to perform, you need family support and spouse support, and Olive was great that way."

Foley's funeral will take place in his hometown of Killaloe, Co. Clare on Friday afternoon.