Cruel game yes, but what a game. Now to learn from disappointment.
BEFORE the game, if it had been possible, many diehard Ireland rugby fans would have gratefully accepted this 'nearly moral victory'. But in the end, this cruel defeat by the New Zealand side was a complete heartbreak for all Irish sports people on this island and beyond. There are just too many 'what-ifs' left to be pondered.
Paul O'Connell and his men performed beyond all expectation and produced Champagne rugby in the opening 40 minutes. For most of the second half they absorbed much of what the world's best side had to throw at them and looked to have knocked it off.
The difference between yesterday's performance and the lack-lustre show against Australia was vast and complete.