Tuesday 12 December 2017

Colm Parkinson: Booing Ian Keatley shows Munster fans have got too big for their boots

The sound of Munster fans ironically cheering the substitution of Ian Keatley was shocking
The sound of Munster fans ironically cheering the substitution of Ian Keatley was shocking

Colm Parkinson

The booing of Ian Keatley by a large section of the Munster support on Saturday night in Thomond Park was inexcusable.

Rugby fans are well known for respecting opposing kickers and opposing teams in general. The sound of Munster fans ironically cheering the substitution of one of their own was shocking.

Whether they were cheering at Anthony Foley for finally taking off a player having a really tough time or directly cheering at Keatley is irrelevant. I can only imagine what he felt when the people who should have his back turned against him.

Keatley had one of this days when nothing went right; it happens to every sports person.

My worst game for Laois unfortunately happened in an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2003. Laois' best championship run in 57 years happened to be my worst. I missed most of the Leinster championship with a bad hamstring tear and wasn't right mentally or physically when I returned.

I was introduced as a sub in the first half against Armagh and was taken off again midway through the second half. I was anonymous throughout my time on the field except for the few times I messed up possession. I was happy Micko put me out of my misery.

As I walked off the field, a wave of embarrassment came over me for letting myself down firstly, then my family and also my county.

I'm sure Keatley felt the same emotions on Saturday when substituted. Maybe Foley could have called him ashore earlier. But what he didn't deserve is his own fans cheering his substitution.

I heard my colleague Ivan Yates on Newstalk breakfast saying it's a professional game and supporters pay their money and have the right to act whatever way they want.

I hope it was a wind-up. The players in any sport are the important ones. They provide the entertainment, the highs and the lows.

Supporters sometimes get too big for their boots and Munster rugby fans ('best fans in the world') fit into that category. It's ironic their standards seem to be slipping just like Keatley's did on Saturday night.

CP

Irish Independent

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