Ireland's stunning dismantling of England's grand slam dream on Saturday gives the side a much-needed boost before this year's World Cup, the swansong for the country's so-called "golden generation."
Ireland put a dire tournament behind them with some of their sharpest rugby in years to deny championship winners England their first slam since 2003 with a 24-8 win at the new Aviva Stadium in Dublin. [ID:nLDE72I0GB]
The performance couldn't have come at a better time, according to Ireland coach Declan Kidney. "If you are to win a match, win your last one, because that's the one that carries you through," a buoyant Kidney told a news conference after the game.
Kidney was subject to a stream of attacks in the media after losses to France and Wales and unconvincing wins over Scotland and Italy. This victory, Ireland's seventh in eight games against England, will buy him time to rebuild ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand in September and October.
Ireland must get past Australia and a resurgent Italy in the group stage to reach their first quarter-final for eight years.
"There will be a sense of delight and a bit of frustration. that is a good mix going into the summer because it helps you keep your feet on the ground," Kidney said.
"We know it's going to take all we can do to get out of our pool, but today gives us a bit of feel good."
The World Cup will more than likely be the last for Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation, and teammates Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell.
Reports of his team's demise were greatly exaggerated, O'Driscoll said.
"I don't believe that we have become a bad team in a year," O'Driscoll said. "We perhaps just have not got the breaks or been clinical but we put that some way right today."
The win, in which O'Driscoll broke the tournament record with his 25th try, was particularly gratifying as it was the first big scalp since Ireland moved into their new 50,000-seater stadium last year.
"We hadn't really put down a marker here in the Aviva," O'Driscoll said.
"We needed to try and give us a reason to call it home again. And no better way than to play against the English here and beat them by that margin."