Saturday was a window of opportunity for Ireland's women. Their performance and win over Wales had generated interest, for once they were playing on a weekend free of the distractions of the men's game which was taking a brief hiatus.
The visit of a strong French team was being broadcast live on RTÉ and the sun was shining in Donnybrook. It was all set-up.
Unfortunately, they fluffed their lines badly and they'll beat themselves up for their malfunctioning lineout, their lack of defensive line-speed, their lack of patience in attack and the costly penalty count.
All they can control is their own performance and their performance wasn't good enough to land a blow.
They'll wear that defeat as they return to their workplaces and colleges this week, to work in their hospitals and teach in their schools. Then, they'll look to put it right against Italy in Parma on saturday and finish third in the Six Nations.
Behind the goal at the Bective Rangers end, the two men ultimately responsible for the team's performance leaned against a metal railing and watched the gap between the haves and the have nots manifest itself on the scoreboard above their heads.
David Nucifora might be feeling good about the role he played in bringing Simon Zebo back to Munster or he may be wondering about the situation with Tadhg Furlong's as-yet unannounced contract, but although they're amateur the women fall under his brief.
Anthony Eddy, his fellow Australian, is the man he selected to run the Women's XVs and Sevens programmes along with the Men's Sevens set-up.
When Nucifora arrived in Ireland in 2014, the women's team were on the cusp of putting together a run to the World Cup semi-final, beating New Zealand along the way. In Eddy's first year in 2015, they won a second Six Nations in three years.
In the intervening years, Ireland have gone through a large dip and appear to be coming out the other side. As Ireland were floundering, others got their houses in order. England have gone full-time, New Zealand and France are on part-time deals.
The leagues in England and France seem to be driving standards and those two teams have established a huge gap between themselves and the other four nations in the Six Nations.
Ireland are producing players of quality who, in contrast to previous generations, have been playing rugby from a young age.
The talent identification programme in place for the Sevens programme has helped in identifying strong players from other codes who can come across and play and this window has afforded the highly regarded coach Adam Griggs a free run at the entire pool of players.
When Ireland's results are assessed there has to be realism applied.
They've had two games in 12 months, there's been little or no club rugby played on this island for the duration of the pandemic and, while they've trained hard over the course of their 20 camps between the last Six Nations and this one, you cannot replicate what France brought on Saturday.
The IRFU have just completed a redundancy programme and in the midst of a cash-flow crisis, this is not a great time to go looking for more money.
They will argue with justification that the men's professional game pays the bills, but as the national governing body there is an onus on the union to set the national women's team up to succeed.
Why, it must be asked, has it fallen on a couple of former players and a privately run rugby academy to set-up a national U-20s team?
How has it come to pass that someone of the calibre of Lynne Cantwell has been allowed to slip through the net and become the head of the South African women's programme?
What is the plan for the Women's All Ireland League and the interprovincial championships and what can be done to bridge the gap in quality between the domestic game and the international arena? Vision is needed. Ireland appear to be operating a wait and see policy on professionalism, but this generation of players can't afford to do that. Their careers are too short.
Ireland's focus is qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and, despite Saturday's defeat, they're more than capable of getting there.
Under the IRFU's strategic review, their target is to finish in the top six in New Zealand. They're also expected to win a Six Nations in the next two seasons. Those goals, written in 2018, look unrealistic now.
If they finish in the top three of the 2023 Six Nations, they'll qualify for the new Women's XVs series - an annual event that World Rugby hope will increase the competitiveness and profile of the best of the women's game.
Ireland must want to be part of it, but can players who are juggling their sport with full-time jobs manage that commitment? Is there a plan in place for that?
Perhaps we'll be enlightened when Nucifora next goes before the microphones, but on his last appearance he said that: "Talk of professionalism is really a distraction to the development that really should be a collective focus - which must be getting more girls and women to play the sport".
Turning on a tap and simply paying the players won't solve all the issues, there is more to it than that.
France have a big playing pool, but their preparation, their performance levels, their athleticism didn't happen by accident and their on-pitch ruthlessness only showed that they are in no mood to slow down and let the stragglers catch up.
Unless vision and finance are on offer from above, Ireland's players will continue to sprint as fast as they can as the moving train takes off.