Sunday 20 August 2017

Billy Keane: Munster must unleash hell like when they asked Chabal to dance

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

I've been going through the permutations for Heineken Cup qualification and it would be easier to figure out the chemical formula for the elixir of eternal life.

If such-and-such beat so-and-so and if they concede less tries than the other crowd, then they will go through on the head-to-head, on tries for, but only if their mother serves a redcurrant jus with the Sunday pony roast and the pony is a Shetland.

It's all too much for me but it looks like Leinster vs Munster, in some shape or form, for that last spot in the next round. Even though they are not actually playing each other.

The last round of the pool stage of the Heineken Cup always has a Dan Brown ending. Dan has a new novel coming out in May. Maybe Dan will prove Paul O'Connell is related to Mary Magdalene.

The book is based on 'The Inferno' and it's all about Dante's vision of Hades.

The famous Dante line "abandon all hope, ye who enter here" is posted on the gates of hell.

That should be the banner flying in Thomond Park tomorrow when Munster 'welcome' Racing Metro 92. Racing must be made feel they are playing in a furnace. The ball must be so hot that the Racing players will have to wear oven gloves to catch it. They will face eight kinds of furies when the Munster pack hit them at the kick-off.

Ah but do you remember the day Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan asked Sebastien Chabal to dance? It was against Sale and he was their alpha male. It's probably my favourite Thomond moment.

Ronan put the ball straight into Chabal's arms from the kick-off. It was all part of the plan.

Now Chabal was a hairy man, a warrior, who beat a drum solo on his massive breasts to frighten those well-known bottlers, all and sundry.

The poor man didn't know what hit him and but for the fact he was ensnared in a big knickers hanging off a clothes line in Ballynanty, Chabal would still be travelling backwards in time. That one move broke the heart of Sale.

But we are without Ronan O'Gara this time. Ronan doesn't need me to tell him what he did last week wasn't exactly clever. But Ronan was provoked. Off the ball at that and by a bigger man. There was no way Ronan was going to let that go.

The ticking clock is a stealth tax levied on time itself. Even Ronan is not going to last forever. Ian Keatley and JJ Hanrahan will step into his boots. Ian and JJ are good enough. Now is their big chance.

A miffed woman told me her lover said to her "there are three of us here in the bed".

It was a small bedsit bed, with short legs, and so there was no one hiding underneath. If there was someone else under the duvet Miss Miffed didn't notice that person.

"What?" she asked. It was a loaded "what?"

His reply: "I just can't get my ex-girlfriend out of my head."

The new No 10s must put Ronan and all he has done out of their heads. He was great. Still is. But now it's their day and Ian Keatley's in particular.

Ian will make mistakes. So what? The big thing is to move on and keep playing. JJ is from Currow village and Castle Island Rugby Club. He's the next big thing.

Racing have arrived with a weakened team and we do not know for sure if they are ready to die for the jersey. Their president Jacky Lorenzetti has been in the news over the possible Jonathan Sexton transfer. I'm told the endgame will be sorted out soon and we will not distract Leinster, who play Exeter today.

I will say this, though. Jonathan has acted with the utmost sincerity and honesty in all this. Some day the true story will be told and then you will wonder if Dan Brown should write a book about professional rugby.

Leinster must win with a bonus point. They play away in Sandy Park, which sound like a place you'd find mobile homes and paddling pools and water slides. This is no day out at the seaside. Leinster will have to be at their very best to win, let alone get a bonus.


Expect Sexton to gamble. Leinster, at their conjurer's best, are a treat to watch. The quickness of the hand deceives the eye. The wheel will spin and Leinster will need much luck if the ball will land in slot number eight.

Sky Sports brings us such joy on Heineken Cup weekends. The punditry and commentaries are superb. There are days when we have had to call on the plastic surgeon to get us separated from the sofa but there's a price and it's not just the subscription. Sky make the fixtures.

Leinster and Munster should be playing at the same time. Leinster go first and so Munster will know what they have to do. There is a possibility Munster might not even need a bonus point.

It's a massive collision of fate and circumstance. The answers will become clear before another day has passed.

But we will forecast Munster to go through with a last-gasp winner after 307 plays. The usual sort of stuff you get at Thomond Park on days such as this.

Irish Independent

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