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Ian Keatley Reveals The Profound Effect Being Booed By Munster Fans Had On His Personal Life

Ian Keatley Reveals The Profound Effect Being Booed By Munster Fans Had On His Personal Life
By Gavan Casey Updated
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In December 2015, Leicester Tigers roared into what was once the fortress of Thomond Park and turned Munster over by a scoreline of 31 points to 19.

Munster fly-half Ian Keatley's poor night - both from the tee and in general play - was exacerbated as he trudged towards the touchline, dejected, having been withdrawn by Anthony Foley.

A chorus of boos greeted the Dub as he approached the Munster dugout. His performances at 10 had long been a topic of conversation amongst Munster fans who had grown disheartened by their side's on-field shortcomings. That fateful night, Keatley became the fall guy for a vocal minority.

In an absolutely tremendous piece with Marie Crowe in yesterday's Irish Independent, which you can read in full here, Keatley revealed the profound effects of those those vociferous jeers - which it should be said were lambasted by the majority of Munster fans - along with some of the personal abuse he has received online since joining the province:

I don't need people booing me or telling me that I had a bad game, a player knows how he has done. All players go back and scrutinise the game but I understand they are fans who have paid in and are entitled to their opinions. The worst thing was talking to mom on the phone a day or two later, she broke down crying. I said, 'Look mom, it's fine, these things happen, I'll bounce back'.

It wasn't as straightforward as bouncing back, however. Having conversed with the 30-year-old, Marie Crowe writes in her piece that Keatley spoke to sports psychologists, friends, team-mates and coaches in an attempt to pick himself off the canvas.

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Keatley continued:

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It's so personal. People will tell you it's alright; deep down as a player you know yourself it's not. It's especially tough when you are trying your hardest. I got tweets saying, 'Is Keatley not practising his place-kicking', obviously I couldn't work harder in training but people don't see the hours, weeks, months and years that you put in. They just see you having bad moments in a game and judge you on that.

Aside from his mother's obvious upset, the impact on Keatley's own personal life was also severe. He explained to Crowe that even his trips to training were consumed by self-doubt.

I wasn't cracking jokes anymore; I wasn't listening to music, I love listening to music. In the car, on the way in to training I'd have my radio off, I was constantly thinking. Weird things go through your head; I wondered, 'Why am I putting myself through this?'.

The incident provoked widespread derision in the Irish sports media at the time.

Speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball a couple of nights after Keatley was booed, former Munster star Trevor Hogan declared the fans' actions 'disgraceful':

It's terrible. I had to rewind it to see if I was seeing things.

There was a couple of people sniggering there, laughter. It's absolutely unjustifiable.
If you are a supporter, that is a line you do not cross. It's the lowest of the low.

The only thing that is lower is racism or sexual harassment. That is pathetic.

A day later, Munster would release the following statement to supporters, clearly perturbed by the notion of the club's values falling by the wayside:

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In promoting sportsmanship and positive participation we would like to highlight the below for our supporters and visitors attending matches in Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park.”

R – Respect for both teams, officials and stadium staff. Please remember it is a family occasion, we encourage a vocal crowd and sporting behaviour.

E – Enjoy the game. We want everyone attending Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park to enjoy the experience and feel safe.

S – Silence for the kicker. We encourage our fans and opposition supporters to uphold the tradition of remaining silent for all kickers when taking shots at goal.

P – Participate in the overall match-day experience. Please be vocal in your support, wear your team colours and continue to be upstanding in showing your support on match-day.

E – Educate and welcome younger supporters. It is a family occasion and we want our younger supporters to enjoy memorable moments and become life-long members of the club, show them how to support rugby positively, leading by example.

C – Call out those around you who display unsporting behaviour. We have stewards positioned around the stadium in the terraces and stands, and we ask that you consult them for any issues that may arise.

T – Traditions to be recognised. Please continue to uphold our traditions and values as a club.

Marie Crowe's full Sindo interview with Keatley is well worth the read. If you missed yesterday's paper, you can find it in the link below.

SEE ALSO: 'We Don't See It As A Daunting Prospect': Saracens Fancy Their Chances Vs Munster

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