GORDON D'ARCY has branded Ireland's "horrific" last-gasp defeat to New Zealand a career low point.
The 33-year-old Leinster centre fears he has lost his last chance to beat the All Blacks, after Sunday's crushing 24-22 loss to the world champions.
Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll had targeted beating New Zealand this season before retiring in the summer but the veteran centre's last opportunity slipped away when Aaron Cruden converted Ryan Crotty's overtime try, to steal the spoils in Dublin.
And O'Driscoll's club and country colleague D'Arcy thinks both of them could well have blown their final crack at the world's number one side.
D'Arcy said: "I don't think we have them in the next year and a half, so it probably was my last go at them.
"It's a pretty horrific one to take, I was broken by it I think.
"I've been involved in other games like that, but this is probably a low point in my career."
Despite the agonising defeat though, D'Arcy says Ireland must try to harness their impressive performance against the All Blacks to build consistent progress for 2014.
And he even suggested Ireland should already be targeting the Six Nations title under new head coach Joe Schmidt.
He said: "If we don't build on that and it doesn't become the base for the Six Nations, then what did we achieve? Nothing.
"We talk a lot about wanting to move forward, but sometimes we get in our own way and we pull out one performance and we're perceived as not being consistent enough.
"There is definitely a level of progression from these three autumn games, but this is only a positive if after five games in the Six Nations then we walk away from that with five consistent performances, and hopefully a trophy."
Ireland stunned New Zealand with three tries in the opening 17 minutes, Conor Murray, Rory Best and Rob Kearney crossing in a furious first-quarter blitz.
Steve Hansen's resolute All Blacks claimed tries from Julian Savea, Ben Franks and that overtime finish from Crotty though, to become the first professional-era international team to complete a perfect season.
D'Arcy said defeat did not stop a host of Ireland's players producing performances to remember though.
Hopeful his own showing points to a profitable 2014, he said: "Everyone had a great game, especially Johnny (Sexton) and Seán (O'Brien).
"That has a ripple effect on me, my confidence grows then that grows with Brian (O'Driscoll).
"Positivity always spreads across the team.
"I knew what my remit was and for the most part I thought I did pretty well.
"I was aggressive and as physical as I could have been there.
"I know what I do well and I think I managed to produce that, and hopefully that can carry forward."