IRELAND head coach Andy Farrell left the Aviva Stadium a frustrated figure, after watching his side slipping to a two-point defeat to favourites France in their Six Nations encounter on Sunday.
“A couple of days ago people were writing us off. But we never wrote ourselves off.
"The game was there to be won. It was a hard-fought contest but it’s one that slipped away from us in the end.
“Mixed emotions really. Am unbelievably proud about how the lads handled themselves this week, regarding all the controversy... am unbelievably proud of their efforts.
"There’s a lot of lads hurting in there, both mentally and physically, due to the obvious work-rate, work ethic, putting their bodies on the line for their country. At the same time test matches are there to be won, especially at home.
“I thought our set-piece was very good in the first half, there was one or two things there in the second half. What was really good in the first half was that we kept the ball in front of the forwards.
"We were coming up against a really good defensive unit in France, that are really good in terms of making two-man hits and are very dangerous when the ball is on the floor in terms of their jackaling.”
In terms of moving forward, Farrell was of the opinion that nothing different is required for the remainder of the tournament.
“Our approach, our attitude doesn’t change. I’ve just said to the boys in the changing room there, we talk about the strength of the group and the togetherness and how close they are.
"We’re not even halfway through, but making sure that for these three games we’re at our best and again that approach doesn’t change no matter what.”
Farrell was not overly concerned when he lost three players in the space of 60 seconds at the start of the second half when Billy Burns, Cian Healy and Iain Henderson all had to leave the field due to HIAs.
“I back the players that are coming on. We’ve good guys that are covering them. Yeah, there might be an element of disruption, obviously with Iain being captain and lineout caller but we back the process that we go through during the week in making sure that everyone is ready to go.
"It is what it is. It’s international rugby. It’s a fierce encounter and you have to be ready for anything.”
He also did not seem too concerned with the lack of opportunities created by his side.
“Again I think that comes from game management. I think they had only a couple chances and that was it. They took their chances.
"They were formidable when they got a chance to punch through us first phase and get us on the backfoot over the gain-line, and second phase coming around the corner and getting their offload game going.
"It happened only on a few occasions, but those few occasions were one too many as they were clinical enough to score the try."