However, having been beaten 29-10 during the Six Nations Championship, Ireland showed far greater resolve throughout a contest played out in front of nearly 7,000 in the heart of the Auverge region of France.
In fact with a little greater fortune in a keenly contested second-half, coach Mark McDermott’s side might have sprung a surprise.
McDermott said: “It was baking hot out there, but I was pleased with the manner in which we stuck to our task right until the end. We need to prepare well for the next game on Tuesday.”
Ireland suffered badly inside the opening 20 minutes and conceded a try when tight head prop Yohann Montes forced his way over for Lionel Beauxis to convert.
Two minutes later, replacement scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde brushed off three tame tackles to cross for his side’s second try.
Beauxis once again added the extras for a 14-0 lead Ireland’s position was not improved by a yellow card to captain Stuart Philpott for deliberate obstruction off the ball. However, despite their numerical disadvantage, Ireland remained combative.
In fact in the 20 minutes before half time, they enjoyed their most rewarding spell. Unfortunately it failed to yield a point and France turned around with a comfortable cushion
The Ireland back-row was outstanding in the early stages of the second-half and when French lock Loic Jacquet was sent to the bin for 10 minutes, for hands at a ruck on half way, Ireland stepped up a gear.
Within 90 seconds of Jacquet’s departure, hooker Philpott forced his way over at the posts for a try that outhalf Kieran Hallet somehow failed to convert.
Centre Conan Doyle took over the kicking when Hallet left the field after an hour and immediately reduced the arrears with a penalty.
However, France made sure of victory with a converted try from No 8 Damien Chouly and a breakaway from right wing Jacques Bouussuge.
France scorers: Tries: Montes, Tillous-Borde, Chouly, Boussuge, conversions: Beauxis (2), Fior.
Ireland: Try: Philpott. penalty: Doyle
FRANCE: F Denos; J Boussuge, T Lacroix (M Mermox, 53 mins), G Puyo, Y Fior; L Beauxis, F Cibray (capt, S Tillous-Borde, 8); L Cabarry, A Heguy (G Guirado, 55), Y Montes (D Weber, 40), D Drodz, L Jacquet, F Ouedraogo, F Alexandre, D Chouly
IRELAND: F Carr (Blackrock College); P Duncan (Galwegians, I Hanly, UL Bohemians, 60 mins), T Gleeson (Cork Con), C Doyle (Garryowen), M Williams (Bristol); K Hallett (Bedford Bues, D Cave, Belfast Harlequins, 60 mins), P Marshall (Ballynahinch, D Williams, UCC, 52 mins); D Hurley (UCC), S Philpott (Belfast Harlequins, capt, S Cronin, Shannon, 70 mins), D Ryan (Highfield, P Doran Jones, Dublin Univ, 62mins), D McGowan (Buccaneers), D Toner (Lansdowne), R Noonan (UCC, D Tuohy, Hartpury Coll, Gloucester, 55mins), D Pollock (Queens Univ), S O’Brien (UCD)
Referee: J Leckie (Australia)