Alan Quinlan has spoken about the special bond he shared with his former Shannon RFC and Munster teammates, in the early portions of his rugby career.
Quinlan was speaking with Eoin Sheahan on this morning's OTB AM, and the conversation turned to some nostalgic photos he posted on Twitter over the weekend.
"I just found a great photo of Mick Galwey, John Langford, John Hayes, myself, and Anthony Foley.
"It just brings back happy memories of our time together with Shannon, and it just made me realise how lucky we were with the players we had there. I think I put up another picture of the '98 final when Axel [Foley] was captain.
"It was myself and Axel in that particular photo, someone sent it onto me. That was a pretty famous day for the All-Ireland League and for Shannon.
"There were over 20,000 people in Lansdowne Road for that final in '98. I was getting a bit nostalgic, I was thinking of the impact John Langford made at Munster and with Shannon. I was thinking [of] how lucky I was to play with all those players.
"When I joined Shannon in '93 or '94 for the under-20s, and then the senior team, it brought back a lot of memories.
"A lot of the clubs in Limerick were trying to sign me from Clanwilliam... it wasn't that there was money involved or anything, they were trying to turn my head so I'd join a club in Limerick.
"I probably wanted to stay with Clanwilliam for as long as I could, and keep playing with the team there... I did realise, without being cocky, that when I left I probably wouldn't be back for a long time.
"I would have went to many games with my Dad when I was younger, into Limerick to see All-Ireland League games on Saturday, the derby matches which were incredible."
Quinlan says the influence of 'Gaillimh' in particular was key in his decision to ultimately line out for Shannon.
"I wanted to play there - I chose Shannon mainly because of Mick Galwey really and we got to know each other. I was working in a garage in Tipperary town and he collected me for training.
"It was a very rewarding decision, when I started playing for Shannon first I played under-20s, a brilliant under-20s side that won the Munster league, the Limerick league, and the Limerick cup.
"Axel was our captain, we had many brilliant players. In those early days when I was 19 or 20, I would play three games every weekend - two on Saturday and one on Sunday.
"Once I started playing in the senior team with Shannon in '95 I was training with Munster a couple of months later and made my debut with Munster in '96.
Found an old classic pic this morning. Made me laugh and think of the great times we had in Kilkenny. Our visit on this occasion was to see Mick’s first daughter. We’re up early after a heavy night. The bull is holding on tight. @MickGalwey @SteedFiona pic.twitter.com/WtYwwtwz55
— Alan Quinlan (@AlanQuinlan1) March 28, 2020
"The success we had with Shannon was just incredible. They were special times, people were so passionate about their rugby... and the club game was so strong back then in Limerick. It certainly helped me in my development.
"I'd always speak to Mick [Galwey] every couple of weeks, it's just really checking in with each other.
"I spoke with John Langford out in Australia as well, and they're starting to experience a serious scenario in regards to COVID-19 as well."
Quinny also talked to us about his relationship with Ronan O'Gara, and the odd burst of temper from the former fly-half.
"He was pretty hard to please... he was just so demanding. He demanded high standards of himself and everyone around. He was narky, he was fiery, we were always very close, and that probably led to us having lots of little verbal scrapes - verbal because I could never catch him!
"I remember coming back from an injury one time, we were actually training at Garryowen... he more or less told me I was on the second team. I was just being my usual self trying to mess up the opposition and frustrate them, we had a little scrap and he told me I am where I am because I'm such a 'useless f****r' and more or less said I deserve to be over here. He apologised pretty much straighaway afterwards!"