This time two years ago, Munster were very much in a different place.
December 2015, the southern province succumbed to a defeat at home to the Leicester Tigers, all but ending their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup for the second season in succession.
During that time, Ian Keatley wasn’t performing well for the southern province and he would be the first person to admit that. However, the atmosphere around the province at the time was so negative that the almost inconceivable happened, ‘supporters’ jeered one of their own.
Keatley was substituted in that game when he clearly should have left the field earlier, some people state that supporters booed him, others state that it was sarcastic jeers aimed at the Munster management for making a decision they should have made much earlier in the game.
Nevertheless, regardless of who it was aimed it, it should never have happened but thankfully, no such atmosphere has existed in Thomond Park since and the 30-year-old Keatley has recovered from those circumstances over the last 24 months to currently emerge as the province’s No.1 out half.
Conor Murray spoke to Pundit Arena today as Pinergy launched an official energy partnership with Munster Rugby with #WeAre16 Campaign and posed the theory that the recent onset of fatherhood for the Dubliner has clearly been benefitting his game.
“I don’t know, he’s had a kid recently so the lack of sleep suits him! He’s wrecked when he comes into training some days and he’s napping the whole time. It’s great for him, isn’t it?” Murray said.
The way Keatley was treated two seasons ago doesn’t sit well with the Limerickman and he admits that he was delighted to see the 30-year-old receive a standing ovation from the Thomond Park faithful when he left the field on Saturday night.
“I’m sure you know, Keats had a tough time of it a couple of years ago when Axel was under a bit of pressure too and he seemed to be the only player everyone picked on a bit. Just seeing him come off the pitch last Saturday and get a standing ovation was really nice, you could see it in his face. He loves Munster, he loves being there. I’m sure that time was really difficult, it was a long time ago anyway, but he’s just enjoying rugby and playing really well.”
Both Murray and Keatley have been named to start for Munster in their clash against the Tigers at Welford Road on Sunday and if they both perform like they did in Limerick, then Munster will be confident they can pull off a result and increase the chance of making the quarter-finals.
Conor Murray was speaking at the launch of the #WeAre16 campaign with Pinergy. For more information of the #WeAre16 competition, please see Munster Supporters Club Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MRSC16/ or the Pinergy Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/PinergyIRL/