Big win boosts Schmidt's confidence
Ireland's crushing 26-3 victory over Wales builds confidence and raises hope of an RBS 6 Nations title challenge, according to boss Joe Schmidt.
Lock Dan Tuohy suffered a suspected broken arm in Ireland's second straight Six Nations victory, head coach Schmidt revealed.
The Ulster second-rower will have scans next week, but Ireland head coach Schmidt said he expects him to be sidelined for some time.
Wales centre Scott Williams left the Aviva Stadium with his arm in a sling after suffering a shoulder injury, head coach Warren Gatland confirmed.
Ireland's comprehensive two-try dismantling of Wales left Gatland admitting it was one of his lowest moments in his job.
Schmidt's ferocious Ireland bested Wales at the breakdown, scrum and line-out, with peerless Munster flanker Peter O'Mahony eclipsing natural scavenger Sam Warburton.
Ireland will chase the Triple Crown against England at Twickenham on February 22.
Former schoolteacher Schmidt said Ireland cannot target the title outright just yet, but conceded his side will go to England brimming with confidence.
"I'm not going to think too far ahead," said Schmidt. "But it's certainly a gathering of confidence for us.
"The big, powerful team Wales brought today were always going to be tough opponents.
"They never quite got into the game really, they were perhaps not entirely match-fit some of them s o in that respect I would suggest we were fortunate in some areas, and definitely benefited from that.
"We'll get together again after a couple of days, review what we've done, take stock and work out how we can keep getting better. Then we'll plot some sort of course forward going to Twickenham.
"That's a massive game for us now; I think they were very unlucky against France and are an extremely powerful side."
Former Gloucester lock Tuohy replaced captain O'Connell just before the hour, only to suffer almost immediate injury.
Lamenting his loss, Schmidt said: "I think Dan has fractured his forearm, and he will see a specialist.
"We will have more news on that next week but it's almost certainly a fracture.
"It was really unfortunate for Dan, he played well last week. We had a lot of confidence putting him on, and it was really his first action that it happened s o we feel for him and we're really disappointed for Dan."
Ulstermen Chris Henry and Paddy Jackson claimed Ireland's tries, with Johnny Sexton booting 14 points and Jackson one conversion.
Munster skipper O'Mahony's fervent performance elevated Ireland's breakdown play far out of Wales' desperate reach.
The 24-year-old produced perhaps his finest hour in an Ireland shirt, leading boss Schmidt to kick off the tributes.
"I wouldn't say we necessarily targeted the breakdown, but it was something we wanted to make sure we were very good at," said Schmidt.
"Peter O'Mahony certainly led that for us, but he was definitely backed up by the likes of Rory Best, and Brian O'Driscoll was no slouch either."
Wales must forego all thoughts of a record-breaking third consecutive RBS 6 Nations title after one of the worst defeats in Warren Gatland's coaching tenure, the Kiwi coach has admitted.
Former Ireland coach Gatland oversaw Wales' biggest Six Nations defeat in his seven-year tenure.
"It's tough for us but I think it's one step at a time: and the first step is to improve on what we've done here," said Gatland.
"We won't be thinking in terms of retaining the Six Nations, we'll be thinking about improving for our next game against France."
Admitting Wales could have been caught out by Ireland's dogged and direct gameplan, Gatland lambasted his side for conceding 17 penalties.
"Possibly there was surprise, I think it was effective," said Gatland of Ireland's brutal approach.
"I can't remember any occasion when they moved the ball through the backline to go at us.
"They dominated us up front and caused us a lot of problems.
"It's just going back and having a look at those penalties we've given away, where we can improve.
"We have a target of 10 or less, so to give 17 away from our point of view was simply unacceptable."