Ireland were dealt a cruel blow in New Zealand when rugby’s world champions struck a winning drop goal just 60 seconds from the final whistle in Saturday’s second test in Christchurch.
All-Blacks captain Dan Carter hit the winning kick a minute from the end of a brave Irish performance that came so close to a first ever win but ended in a 22-19 defeat.
Instead of recording an Irish breakthrough, the history books will now tell you that Ireland have lost 25 of their 26 matches against New Zealand.
But this time it could have been so different as a try from scrum-half Conor Murphy helped the tourists to a 10-9 half-time lead.
Out-half Jonny Sexton kept Ireland in touch with his boot even when Aaron Smith edged the Kiwis in front with his try early in the second-half.
New Zealand, reduced to 14 men when Israel Dagg was sin-binned for a crude tackle on Rob Kearney, were on the ropes before Carter landed the decisive kick.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll summed up the dejection in the camp afterwards.
“I’m gutted all right,” O’Driscoll told Sky Sports 2. “We got back on level terms and to concede the way we did is disappointing.
“Out performance was massively improved from last week and I’m very proud of the lads.
“We let ourselves down in the first Test and we spoke about that, we spoke about the jersey and concentrating on our own game, but the scoreline still says an All Blacks win which is difficult to take considering the effort we put in.”
All-Blacks captain and match winner Carter was happy to escape with the win.
“It was a typical old arm wrestle,” said Carter. “We made mistakes, let them get momentum and that went against us. We gave the ball away but at the end we’re happy to get away with a win.
“We didn’t match Ireland how we wanted. We made mistakes and these guys make you play.
“We have got things to work on, but we recovered our composure, forced a mistake and got the win.”
Why all Irish men’s beards are red