3 moments that mattered in Ireland's victory over France

1. Ireland’s fallen warriors

Not a moment as such, but a collection of them. France targeted Johnny Sexton ruthlessly and got their man; Paul O’Connell’s tears hurt us more than Ian Madigan’s warmed us; Peter O’Mahony ending the game in a heap was the unwanted icing on our injury cake.

It bodes well that Ireland kept such cohesion and clear-headedness in their absence but along with Sean O’Brien’s likely departure should he be cited for that punch on Pascal Pape, you wonder will it be enough if Schmidt’s men make it to the tournament’s business end.

2 - Drop dead Fred

Stuart Barnes reckoned Frederic Michalak’s flaky brilliance represented Ireland’s biggest threat but also their best opportunity. When he fluffed an early kick at goal you hoped Michalak was having one of those days when he tries too hard and his head isn’t right, and so it proved.

Rob Kearney smelled blood when sent trundling down the Toulon man’s channel and he treated his attempted tackle with disdain to get over for the crucial opening score.

3 - O’Brien on Basta

Twitter didn’t know how to feel about Sean O’Brien yesterday. He threw the dirtiest of early digs on Pascal Pape that will probably curtail his tournament, but you couldn’t help but feel he was hell-bent on making amends given the bullocking performance that followed.

O’Brien showed little regard for his own well-being as he thundered into contact like he needed it to survive. The magnificent turnover on Mathieu Bastareaud on one of France’s rare visits to the Irish 22 was one of those “we’ll be grand from here lads” moments.

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