Brian-ODEven George Hook was won over by Saturday’s feisty and fairly fearless display against the All Blacks. Pride, he said, had been restored, despite the result and his usual abhorrence of pyrrhic victories – a notion Declan Kidney was quick to dismiss.

The conclusion has to be that Ireland find it far easier to raise their game when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. Overwhelming favouritism has never fitted our put-upon national psyche. And boy are we put upon these days.

Much like Ronan O’Gara cited Munster’s heroics against New Zealand at Thomond Park two years ago as the sort of spirit Ireland were lacking, the province’s midweek second-string success against an abject Australian selection showed that appetite is a great leveller.

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