Mick Galwey: Neil Back apologising was WORSE than what he did to Munster

The ‘Hand of Back’ will never be forgotten in Munster.

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When you think about men that gave their all for the Munster and Ireland rugby cause, Mick Galwey is one of the first names that springs to mind. Galwey, who also won an All-Ireland football title with Kerry in 1986, played for 16 seasons for the southern province and represented his country at the highest level on 41 occasions.

Galwey captained Munster to two Heineken Cup final defeats, losing out to Northampton in 2000 and Leicester in 2002 – which turned out to be a highly controversial affair. In that game, Tigers flanker Neil Back swipes his hand at the ball during a Munster scrum right in front of the posts in the final moments and managed to get away with it on the blind side of the referee. Leicester turned over the scrum, booted the ball clear, and would go on to win the game 15-9 leaving Munster fans and Galwey devastated.

The former Ireland captain was the guest of honour on our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast this week and he didn’t shy away from addressing the issue with hosts Paddy Power and Ruby Walsh. Gawley was level-headed about the affair all these years later, but he is still annoyed that Back apologised for it a few months later rather than just owning it.

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“We’ve all done it,” said the former Munster lock.

“If it were one of our lads, we’d be patting him on the back.

“I remember it came out in the papers, he said he did what he had to do for his team and that’s fair enough. But, what annoyed me about Neil Back was – and this is being straight up – four months later he apologised about it.

It was like turning the knife, it really stuck the dagger in.

“I know he was twisting it, and that’s what upset me more.”

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It was a tough defeat to take Galwey and his Munster colleagues, especially as it was there second final loss in three seasons, and it took him a couple of months to get over it.

“I remember coming home after 2002, I threw my bag in the hall and it was there for two months,” said Galwey.

Eventually, I had to pick it up because there was a smell coming out of it. I didn’t even want to wash my gear.

“I did meet him (Back) afterwards at some old function in Dublin. I’ve been great friends with him. But, if I saw him now, I’d say hello to him – that would be about it.

“To come around four months later and apologise, that to me was the worst! That’s what got me. But, as for the act itself, we’ll get over it.”

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