The celebrations were still in full swing, when Paul O’Connell gathered Ireland’s three locks together in a quiet corner of the dressing room.
or a man who’s had enough painful days in New Zealand, O’Connell has a clear idea of how hard it is to win here.
In his nine games against the All Blacks with Ireland and the Lions, O’Connell lost all nine games which is why he felt it was important to try and convey how much the Ireland succeeded in Dunedin on Saturday night. Tadhg Beirne takes us behind the scenes.
“Paulie came up to me, Cheese (James Ryan) and Treads (Kieran Treadwell) and was just talking to us. He said ‘You guys don’t even realize how special this is. This has never happened to Irish teams before. You boys are almost used to beating them.
“But I wouldn’t say that! We have also lost to them many times and lost to them in big games. But Paulie could never beat them and we’ve done it now twice in 12 months. It’s quite special for this group.
The inferiority complex that plagued Ireland for so long every time they visited New Zealand is no more, as a mix of old and new faces has resulted in one of the greatest results of the country’s history.
Some would say it was the biggest, but with a series on the line on Saturday night in Wellington, Ireland have a chance to make even more history.
Beirne was at the heart of an excellent performance which, while far from perfect, was comfortable enough to secure Ireland’s first win on Kiwi soil.
“It’s incredibly special,” said the incredible lock from Munster.
“That’s history, isn’t it?” It’s something that’s never been done before and I think people will probably say we got a little carried away after the game. I don’t know, but we said we wanted to come here and make history by getting a win here.
“It has never been done before and to do it now is quite special. It also sets us up for a massive week in terms of a Maori game on Tuesday to try to back it up then and win the series.
“Everyone thought we made history and that was our goal when we came here.
“Above all, it was to win a Test. It’s pretty special that we’ve done it now. The next objective is obviously to win the series, which could be the last series ever held in New Zealand. What a way that would be to end it.
Such was the pressure Ireland exerted on the All Blacks they made them look ordinary as discipline deserted the hosts, who could have lost even more had Ireland not strayed slightly in the second quarter then that they were 15 against 13 players.
Unlike the previous week at Eden Park, however, Ireland had the nerve to pull themselves together and kick off, despite losing James Ryan to the trash for the first 10 minutes after the restart.
“When we don’t capitalize on that, it’s not ideal,” Beirne said of Ireland who didn’t benefit earlier.
“We had so much territory that we weren’t capitalizing when we should have. We talked about it at half time and for them to turn things around and then come back up the other end and score, it was a blow.
“Maybe a year ago, two years ago, we might not have bounced back. We were able to meet at half-time and tell ourselves that we had to start the second half. -time.
“We were both at 14 men and we managed to get the first score and that probably set the tone for us.
“For me, last week, my first game in a long time, a bit of a shock to the system. I was far from where I wanted to be.
“Luckily I ran some good lines from Johnny (Sexton). He’s world class. He’s just able to see that and get you through those holes.
As much as Ireland savored the glory of their historic win, they quickly moved on, knowing another big 80-minute performance would see the All Blacks lose their first home streak since 1994.
“Personally and for the team, that would mean everything,” Beirne added. “Since the day we met a few weeks ago, that’s the first thing we’ve said; “We’re good enough to come here and get a series win.”
“First game here, we didn’t prove that. Like I said, in patches we maybe showed it. We showed it most of the time, but still in patches they are really came to us and were clinical. If we could do it again next week, that would mean absolutely everything to us.
“But it’s also about giving everyone in Ireland a boost. We want everyone behind us. I feel like people will be excited about next week, more people will probably tune in, more people will want to be a part of what we’re doing here. We’re on a journey right now and obviously the goal is to get a series win.
New Zealand – J Barrett; S Reece, R Ioane, Q Tupaea, L Fainga’anuku (W Jordan 49); B Barrett (R Mo’unga 57), A Smith (F Fakatava 62); G Bower (A Ross 64), C Taylor (S Taukei’aho, 57), O Tu’ungafasi; B Retallick (P Tuipulotu 43-55), S Barrett (P Tuipulotu 73); D Papalii (A Ta’avao 25-30) (PG Sowakula 68), S Cane (capt), A Savea (A Ross, 33-35).
Ireland – H Keenan; M Hansen, G Ringrose (B Aki 30), R Henshaw, J Lowe; J Sexton (captain) (J Carbery 73), J Gibson-Park (C Murray 68); A Porter (C Healy 65), D Sheehan (R Herring 64), T Furlong (F Bealham 65); T Beirne, J Ryan (K Treadwell 68); P O’Mahony (Doris 75), J van der Flier, C Doris (J Conan 64).
REF – J Peyper (South Africa).