Sunday 18 August 2019

Billy Keane: 'Leinster fans are better off leaving Vunipola alone - don't feed him'

'The Saracens fans roared their loudest for a man who condemned so many of them to hell.' Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
'The Saracens fans roared their loudest for a man who condemned so many of them to hell.' Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

We will generously share our insider tips with Leinster. If Leinster win the European Champions Cup on Saturday next, they will become the first team to win five stars

Munster have only three stars. Two for winning two Heineken Cups and another because Garryowen wear a white star on their famous blue jerseys. And if you throw in Kieran Donaghy that makes four stars.

As we are on about Garryowen, here is our tip for the perfect up-and-under. The big thing is to kick the ball up very high. That gives your team a chance to get up first in the air. There is so much protection nowadays for the high fielder and first in wins.

Owen Farrell kicks ball as high as some of the lesser Nepalese peaks. Saracens' high kicks caused terrible trouble for Munster. Rob Kearney is superb in the air. The winning and losing of the game may well depend on the dependable Kearney.

Tip two is all about breaking rules. Saracens second-rows George Kruis and Maro Itoje spend more time offside than a man who is too fond of women. Referee Jerome Garces had a poor day in the semi-final. One of the big locks inevitably popped out of the line before it was legal to do so.

I am sure Leo Cullen will be having a quiet word with Jerome who, in my opinion, only reffed one team and that was Munster. It is worth noting he was also in charge when Ireland played England. He had another poor game that day and England got most of the breaks.

Itoje hit Jonathan Sexton off the ball. But it wasn't spotted and Sexton carried the reminder of the blow around with him for the rest of the game. Itoje is a giant of a man and he can run fast. He is ruthless, skilful, fiery and a supreme athlete. Leinster must keep him quiet but I'm not sure if they can manage that nigh-on impossible feat.

You could say the same of Saracens No 8, Billy Vunipola. I thought the controversy surrounding his like for a homophobic post from Israel Folau would get to Billy, but he turned the criticism of his homophobia into a positive for himself. The boos and jeers seemed to inspire him.

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Maybe Billy felt he was some sort of Christian martyr who was defending his faith. He agreed with Folau when he tweeted that "hell awaits" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators."

Vunipola backed Folau and refused to retract. The Folau case is ongoing and there are reports from Australia that he turned down compensation of $1million to vacate his contract. The Aussies want him out and they are right to fire this unrepentant homophobe.

I notice Billy Vunipola agrees with the burning of drunks. Well then Billy Boy, you have just condemned a fair slice of Saracens to eternal damnation. The Sarries supporters queued up for pint after pint at the mobile pubs set up outside the stadium on the day of the Munster game. There was no misbehaviour as such, but they were merry. Neither Vunipola nor Folau gave an indication as to how much drinking makes a drinker into a drunk. Our guess is even Shane Ross would have a higher limit than the two boys.

The Saracens fans roared their loudest for a man who condemned so many of them to hell. This was possibly the first time in history those destined for hell cheered the man who sent them there.

It was that totally inappropriate cheer for Vunipola that got the Munster fans' backs up. Then Billy spent a lot of time looking into the Munster crowd. He was using them to get himself up for the game.

If there was any justice in rugby, Billy would be up there in the stands with his cheering fans, who perhaps unwittingly endorsed homophobia. Well they know now, and if Billy gets the biggest cheer when the stadium announcer reads out the teams before the game there will be nothing unwitting about it.

Yet it was the Munster fans who were portrayed as the baddies. The best thing for the Leinster fans will be to leave Billy alone. Don't feed him.

Spending all eternity with Billy and Folau is a terrifying prospect. I am going to suffer the consequences. There will be a few Newcastle Brown Ales after the game.

I really fear for Leinster in this one. Saracens have five Lions in their pack. They are big men and Leinster will have to play beyond their best to win the fifth star.

The good news is Jonathan Sexton is fit again. He was never really right in the Six Nations. Niggling injuries can impact on performances. Curiously, it was a patch of boggy ground right on the kick-off spot that meant his drop-outs were not at their usual high level in the Welsh game. He just couldn't get the ball to bounce up on a very wet day.

The forecast so far is good for Saturday. The finer the weather, the better for Leinster. This is the toughest game ever.

Go on then Leinster and win the fifth star.

News has just reached us that our colleague Eugene McGee has died. I will never forget the night Eugene and his wife Marian brought us the ball Seamus Darby kicked into the roof of the Kerry net and so ended our drive for five.

Eugene was a brilliant tactician and motivator. He was an honest and knowledgeable journalist who never took cheap shots at the game he loved. Rest well, my friend.

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