With several younger and relatively inexperienced horses in the team line-up, Ireland staged a brave second round recovery at the Nations Cup in Falsterbo, Sweden, on Friday, but failed to pull themselves up from their half-time eighth position.
Drawn to jump in a disadvantageous first place in the competition, Ireland kicked off with an uncharacteristic 16 faults from Shane Breen and the Irish Sport Horse Cos I Can.
This was followed by an even more discouraging 24 faults from Captain David O'Brien and the Minister for Defence's Annestown.
Shane Carey and the young grey Ballymore Eustace briefly lifted Irish hopes with a classic clear round, but last-man-in Clem McMahon put 13 faults on the board with Pacino to leave Ireland struggling at the bottom of the table on 29 penalties at the halfway stage.
However, when the second round began, Breen and Cos I Can delivered a zero score, as did McMahon and Pacino, with Carey and Ballymore Eustace dropping just one pole and incurring one time fault.
O'Brien once more produced the discard score with 16 faults on his card.
The spirited Irish revival was not enough to change their position on the leaderboard, though, finishing in eighth on a total of 34 faults.
The Nations Cup was won by Sweden, who had to fight their way past a three-way jump off with Britain and France to take the trophy after tying for first place on equal penalties at the end of the second round.
Afterwards Robert Splaine said: “It was a very poor first round and I think we were capable of better.
“The dramatic recovery in the second round by Shane Breen and Clem McMahon gave us some satisfaction, and Shane Carey delivered two excellent rounds.
“With more consistency we would have been in with a shout and I hope this will be the case over the next two legs of the series.”