Rugby World Cup: Shocking start killed off our hopes admits Dave Kearney
When asked why Ireland started Sunday's World Cup quarter-final loss to Argentina so slowly, Dave Kearney was left struggling for answers.
Looking to reach a first-ever semi-final, Joe Schmidt's side were slow out of the gate as Argentina raced into a 17-point lead and the Leinster winger couldn't pinpoint why he and his teammates came out so sluggish in what for many was the biggest game of their lives.
"We didn't start the game the way we wanted to," he said.
"We didn't have the line-speed we had against France. We were quick out of the blocks in that match but I don't think we did that.
"We were just pretty slow to get going and we let them build up too much momentum and they went ahead 17 points to nil.
"I suppose we did well to get it back close, but that's really all we did."
Argentina were always likely to stretch Ireland with a quick tempo and eagerness to go wide but, despite admitting that the players got what they expected from the impressive Pumas, Kearney acknowledged they were ill-equipped to deal with the threat.
"We knew what they were going to come with," said the 26-year-old, who started four of Ireland's games at the tournament.
"It goes back to getting off the line and getting into it early and starting like we did last week. Suddenly we were under our posts and 17-0 down and with a big hill to climb.
"They moved the ball wide a lot and we felt pretty stretched on the edge. We just felt that they had a lot of space to work with out wide. It's part of that line-speed thing again.
"One pass was taking out four or five of our players and suddenly we were finding ourselves defending a two or three-man overlap.
"It's tough to deal with situations like that when they have the guys that they do on the edge."
Ireland's team was ravaged by injuries and suspension but Kearney didn't offer the long list of absentees as a reason for the defeat.
With Paul O'Connell, Johnny Sexton, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne all missing, and Tommy Bowe departing the scene in the early stages, Kearney said: "Obviously it would take a big toll on any team. We still had a lot of leaders who stepped up.
"We have great strength in depth in the squad and even with those guys injured we had guys who came on and played really well. We got it back to 23-20 and were looking good again. We were getting off the line and making tackles and then suddenly one error puts us back behind the posts and again then we're looking at another mountain to climb.
"It just wasn't meant to be but I'd like to thank the supporters, they were incredibly humbling. They never stopped from minute one."