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Ireland's green giants produced match of the century against All Blacks

By Nigel Carr

Published 07/11/2016

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Jonny Sexton and Simon Zebo of Ireland celebrate following their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Rory Best of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland congratulates his players following their 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Jack McGrath of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo (L) of Ireland celebrates with teammate Jonny Sexton after scoring his team's fourth try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo (L) of Ireland celebrates with teammate Jonny Sexton after scoring his team's fourth try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ireland's Devin Toner, back, and Jack McGrath, right, defend against New Zealand's Ben Smith, center, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Kieran Reid of New Zealand looks on during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip, right, defends against New Zealand's Ben Smith, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring against New Zealand during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's CJ Stander, center, is tackled by New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's CJ Stander celebrates after a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, right, scores past New Zealand's Sam Cane, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Joey Carbery, right, celebrates with Josh van der Flier, left, after a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's supporters cheer on their team during the second half of a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Debut cap Scott Barrett of New Zealand touches down to score his team's third try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand wins lineout ball under pressure from CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand wins lineout ball under pressure from CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: CJ Stander of Ireland wins lineout ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand spills a high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is snagged by Dane Coles of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland hands off Dane Coles of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland players celebrate their 40-29 victory as the final whistle blows during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Donnacha Ryan (L) of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Liam Squire of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: A New Zealand fan cheers on her team fan during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: An Ireland fan is apprehended by security as he attempts to celebrate with Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
The All Blacks perform the haka during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view.) The teams line up for the anthems during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand spills a high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Kieran Reid of New Zealand looks on during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand claims a ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand claims a ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Mathieu Raynal of France speaks with Kieran Reid of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Moody of New Zealand is hauled down by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Aaron Cruden of New Zealand is tackled by Conor Murray of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Moody of New Zealand is hauled down by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Mathieu Raynal of France officiates during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks takes the ball in the lineout during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks spills the high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks spills the high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks takes a catch during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: George Moala of the New Zealand All Blacks is injured during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is smothered by players after scoring a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ryan Crotty of the New Zealand All Blacks leaves the field injured during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo of Ireland takes a catch during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The many superlatives that followed Ireland's historic victory over world champions New Zealand were no more than expected, or deserved.

After all, when it's your first win after 111 years and 29 attempts then you know something historic has happened.

Munster's 1978 win over the All Blacks has now been surpassed, with Munster men to the fore in Ireland's weekend triumph. The players from all four provinces were equally intent on paying former Ireland captain Anthony Foley the highest of tributes as his untimely death provided inspiration to the current team.

Ulster will take particular pride that Rory Best captained the side.

The hooker has had his fair share of disappointments in recent years, including snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when losing to the Kiwis by two points in 2013.

When he looks back over an illustrious career, Saturday's historic win will surely rank close to his Six Nations Grand Slam season in 2009.

Despite the busy schedule immediately ahead (with games against Canada, New Zealand again and Australia in successive weeks), I'm sure a little champagne was in order.

Yet one swallow doesn't make an autumn international series and Ireland must aim to build on this unexpected victory. As the British and Irish Lions look to next summer's tour of New Zealand, the Irish players have already staked claim for places in the squad.

But there is a huge amount of rugby to be played before the selection is finalised and a mediocre international season would see many Irish hopefuls lose out.

Likewise, the tremendous interest that such a win generates will also be dissipated if Ireland's New Zealand-born coach can't consolidate and prove this win to be evidence of a resurgence of the game on this island.

Thankfully, Ireland's next game is against a spirited Canadian team before facing the southern hemisphere might of a rematch with the All Blacks closely followed by the Australians.

Then the analysts will have a much better guide as to Ireland's standing in the world game and their prospects against the home nations starting in February.

For now it is still the time to rejoice in the five Irish tries and attacking style that ended the All Blacks' 18-game unbeaten run. Time enough to think about the impending challenges ahead when you're still fully in celebration mode. As for the future, might we play all our home games in Chicago?

  • Nigel Carr is a former Ulster and Ireland rugby star

Belfast Telegraph

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