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Relationship With The Players A Possible Reason For Kieran Keane Removal

Connacht have yet to confirm the news that head coach Kieran Keane will be leaving the western province after just one season at the helm but based on reports throughout the Irish media today, it seems to be certain.

The delay in the announcement is likely due to negotiations surrounding Keane’s exit package not having been finalised just yet but the province will be keen to release a statement soon to clarify matters in the midst of widespread speculation.

The reasons that the province will give for Keane’s sacking will certainly be interesting. Results will likely play a factor considering Connacht finished second from bottom in Conference A, just above Zebre.

However, it is being reported that Keane’s demeanour and the players’ relationship with the head coach could also be a factor.

From this writer’s experience, Keane comes across as a man who is straight to the point and who doesn’t exactly have the same positivity flowing through his veins as his predecessor Pat Lam.

That is absolutely no reason to relieve a coach of his duties but it could be due to his public criticism of his players throughout the season which has potentially caused a divide between the squad and the 64-year-old.

RTE’s Darren Frehill interviewed Brendan Fanning of the Irish Independent, who broke the story on Monday night and Keane’s relationship with his players is something both journalists allude to when suggesting reasons for the Kiwi coach’s removal.

“I’ve been talking to a source close to the situation and I understand that his sacking is not entirely down to those results as players and staff at the club found his management style difficult to deal with at times,” Frehill said.

“I think it’s worth looking at the results,” Fanning said.

“People forget that Pat Lam had six wins from 22 games in his first season which is a remarkably similar start to Kieran Keane’s. As a man of Connacht said to me yesterday, Pat Lam would likely be high-fiving people going down the College Road whereas Kieran Keane wouldn’t be doing the same thing.

“I’m not suggesting that a coach gets sacked because of not having a particularly sunny disposition but equally it helps as seeing the glass as half full. From the outset, it was inevitable how critical he was of the players.

“If you remember at the start of the season, they had lost a couple of games that they had virtually won and he was apoplectic after those games and while that’s fine tearing strips off your players in the dressing room, but when you go out and do it in the media, it immediately creates a bit of a ghost between you and the players.

“I wonder if he ever got that back,” Fanning finished.

You can listen to the full conversation below.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter