Despite a disappointing Six Nations campaign, there were still some positives for Ireland.
Here are three highlights from a difficult championship for Declan Kidney's men.
Zebo's brilliant piece of skill against Wales
Ireland started in such swashbuckling style in the opening 43 minutes against Wales,with thoughts quickly turning to a possible first Grand Slam since 2009. Kidney's men led the defending champions by a 30-0 margin, racking up an emphatic lead with some stylish scores. The best moment of the Millennium Stadium encounter - and arguably the championship although France's Wesley Fofana would counter that claim - was Simon Zebo's outrageous football skills. The Munster youngster back-heeled the ball into his hands in the lead up to Cian Healy's first-half try, with the Irish skipper Jamie Heaslip describing the piece of skill as "Match of the Day-type stuff". It was a brilliant piece of individuality that encapsulated an exhilarating opening period. Unfortunately for the Men in Green, their championship went downhill from that opening success.
Jackson and Marshall give glimpse to the future
With Ireland struggling ahead of a trip to Scotland, Kidney plucked two youngsters from Ulster's all-conquering side in the RaboDirect PRO12 this term: Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall. The latter enjoyed his best Six Nations moments in a 12-8 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield. The 22-year-old broke past his opponents on several occasions in an eye-catching debut, breathing life into a stale Irish side. It brought vigour to the No12 position which has been lacking under the ever-present Gordon D'Arcy in recent years. While Jackson didn't enjoy such an immediate impact in Scotland, the out-half made amends with an assured performance in a 13-13 draw with France, kicking a number of long-distance penalties which have test even the most experience of fly-halves. It gave an exciting insight into Ireland's future.
Change is nigh
The final point is not so much a championship highlight but a reason to be positive for Irish rugby fans. While Kidney's reign will be deemed a moderate success, thanks to a Grand Slam and Triple Crown, which helped him win the IRB Coach of the Year award in 2009, there's a sense that of Irish rugby has gone full circle. Should Brian O'Driscoll call time on his international career this year, the Leinster centre would be leaving Ireland in a similar position to which he found it. Kidney has won 16 of 40 Tests since their triumph in the Millennium Stadium almost four years ago, and a disastrous Six Nations campaign should all but seal his fate with his contract up for renewal in the summer. Ireland need a daring new coach to oversee the influx of new blood into the side, with Queensland Reds coaching boss Ewen McKenzie touted to be the frontrunner. Whoever takes charge, Irish rugby can only head in one direction after the last six weeks.