Quinlan pays tribute to Munste...
Rugby

Quinlan pays tribute to Munster's "driving force" Garrett Fitzgerald

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

15:12 15 Feb 2020

Alan Quinlan has paid respect to former Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald as the "driving force" behind Munster's success in the professional era. 

Fitzgerald passed away on Friday after an illness aged 65. He was the longest-serving provincial CEO in Irish rugby having joined in 1999 before retiring last June.

Quinlan joined Saturday's Off The Ball and highlighted the importance and character of Fitzgerald during Munster's rise through the early professional era.

"He had to innovate and be involved in a lot of change over the years and I think he was the driving force behind a lot of success there and it is very, very sad news.

"There was a great bond and a connection not just between the players which we all speak about but with the management and the people behind the scenes and Garrett was the one who was driving that."

The former flanker recalled the warm reception Fitzgerald gave him as a young player being introduced to Munster.

"I remember going to one of my first Munster training sessions and meeting Garret there and just the welcome he gave me and the way he was able to go and chat to people.

"He obviously had a natural ability to connect with people and to bring people together and that's what he did."

In terms of his legacy, Quinlan remembered Fitzgerald's emotion after the 2006 Heineken Cup win as the end result of years of hard work steering Munster's ambitions.

"I think Garrett can be very very proud of what he did for Irish rugby and Munster rugby.

"I remember in 2006, tears in his eyes after we won that Heineken Cup and it was obviously very emotional for everybody because there was a long journey there and Garrett was the one who was the driving force behind that.

"He never really interfered with people or the players or was hanging around training but you knew he was always around and he met the players and was pleasant to them and as CEO he had to make tough calls at times but he handled himself in a really, really decent manner with everybody."

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