Belfast Telegraph

Confident Keatley is flourishing again

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ian Keatley has endured enough tough nights at Thomond Park to appreciate the good ones and after steering Munster to a famous victory over Racing 92 the Dubliner cut a contented figure.

The 30-year-old's form could be rewarded by an Ireland call-up this week and he is likely to have a role to play during the November internationals, something that looked unlikely when he was assessing his options last season and considering a move.

Right from the warm-up, Keatley had a smile on his face around Limerick on Saturday and the pressure that once looked firmly fixed on his shoulders appears to have lifted.

His performance wasn't perfect, but he has learnt not to dwell on things like a missed kick from right in front or a skewed touch-finder.

Perspective has helped and the arrival of his daughter, Beth, in recent weeks has helped him see the bigger picture.

"I am just enjoying myself," he said. "We just had a baby girl there four weeks ago, it just puts a lot of things into perspective and even with Anthony (Foley) passing away last year... rugby is so important, don't get me wrong, but then sometimes you just have to take yourself away from it, and you kinda go, 'what is more important in life'.

"When a player makes mistakes, they don't need someone else telling them they did something wrong. They know it themselves. This is our job.

Playing against a figure like Dan Carter was a thrill, he admits, but it was the less heralded of the two players who thrived.

The All Black shipped a heavy knock in the opening minutes and was replaced on 51 minutes.

After that, Keatley kicked into gear, landing two touchline conversions and helping to earn a penalty that he should have kicked in between those.

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