An opportunity missed, but Foley defends decisions

Munster were on the Leinster line in the dying moments, but left Dublin with a loss

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip tackles Munster’s Ian Keatley Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip tackles Munster’s Ian Keatley Photograph: Inpho/Billy Stickland

 

Dave Kilcoyne’s quick tap and Ian Keatley’s missed penalty kick appear to have snatched victory, or at least a draw, from Munster’s grasp.

Anthony Foley admitted that Munster wasted an enormous opportunity here.

“It’s one we left behind at a crucial moment in the season. To be camped on their line and not come away with a win or at least a draw is something that... It’s disappointing.”

The Kilcoyne quick tap? “You back your players and your actions,” said Foley.

“A player thought he could win the game.”

Kilcoyne was smashed backwards by the combined shoulders of Ben Te’o and Rhys Ruddock.

“We would like to take it back but you don’t get those opportunities to take it back. It’s unfortunate but you got to live with it.

“Selection is trust. You trust the players who are out on the pitch. Some decisions go for you, some go against you.”

The other major decision rests on Foley’s shoulders alone as the Munster head coach replaced Johnny Holland, his 24 year old outhalf who had scored all 13 points, with 57 minutes played and the game evenly poised.

Munster supporters will struggle with the coach’s reasoning.

“We had a very experienced international outhalf on the bench that has led us for the vast majority of the season. With a game as tight as that you don’t want to be putting on your ten with five or ten minutes to go. You want to be making that change earlier.”

Keatley, who is 29, has four caps for Ireland and only one start in the Six Nations (against Italy in 2015).

“Keats got us into a position to win the game,” Foley believed.

“Johnny had done very well up to that point. He is obviously a very up and coming player at the start of his career I’d imagine.

“We have a very experienced ten on the bench. It was important to give him the opportunity to get us into a position to win the game, which he did, but unfortunately we didn’t do it.”

Keatley missed his one kick at goal and turned down two more as Munster went for victory rather than trusting a goal kicker, who has failed to deliver in crucial matches this season, to salvage a draw.

Foley is asked why Holland was picked ahead of Munster’s “experienced international outhalf”? The answer meanders.

“We were happy with the way Johnny could control the game for us.”

“That was a game we felt we could put him in. I felt it was the right decision.”

The wrong decision appears to have been to take him off when it really mattered.

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