'We are entitled to dream a little' after beating All Blacks, says former Ireland captain

'We are entitled to dream a little' after beating All Blacks, says former Ireland captain

Former Ireland captain Donal Lenihan has said with the Rugby World Cup so close and after another win over New Zealand, Ireland "are entitled to dream a little".

Ireland's year has seen a string of impressive victories, including a Grand Slam triumph in March, a winning series in the southern hemisphere against Australia and a first-ever win against New Zealand on home soil.

Writing in his Irish Examiner column, Lenihan says "days like this don’t come around too often" and that the World Cup couldn't come soon enough with the form Ireland are in.

The Munster man said victory over the All Blacks was "a seismic victory for Ireland."

With our ranking of second in the world, New Zealand had targeted this game as the biggest on their European tour but, try as they might, they just couldn’t get the upper hand against an Irish team, fortified by a magnificent bench, that refused to be broken.

Lenihan was also quick to single out defence coach Andy Farrell for praise, saying his impact was as priceless as Joe Schmidt's.

"Ireland’s defensive effort on Saturday was truly amazing. Every single player worked his socks off to get up off the ground and back into the defensive line."

The absence of Conor Murray dominated headlines in the build-up to the game but Lenihan feels victory in his absence will stand to the Irish team.

"It will benefit this Irish side that, in the absence of the best scrum-half in the world at present, Ireland were still able to fashion a win over a side as good as New Zealand," Lenihan wrote.

"Kieran Marmion excelled in a real pressure cooker, as did Luke McGrath when he was called into action.

"Knowing that they can still perform to this level without a player of Murray’s calibre will only contribute further to the feel-good factor in this special group of players."

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