Tommy O’Donnell believes a “smarter” approach from Ireland would have led to a RBS 6 Nations victory over France in Paris, rather than a 10-9 reversal.
O’Donnell entered the fray after just 20 minutes when Sean O’Brien limped off with a hamstring problem and the Munster flanker was left to rue what might have been.
“It’s definitely one we could have won, probably should have won and it hurts,” a downcast O’Donnell revealed.
“I think we need to be a little bit smarter, a little bit cuter with possession - definitely a bit more accurate with our possession when we have it - turning good field positions into scores and keeping the scoreboard ticking over and taking that little glimmer of hope away from teams.”
Conditions in Paris were hardly conducive for free-flowing rugby and O’Donnell admitted that a more conservative approach could have yielded dividends, adding: “It wasn’t ideal, I don’t think the rain ever let up and the ground was fairly wet.
“I think we needed to be a little bIt smarter and should’ve trucked tha ball up under our jumper a small bit more and taken the expansiveness out of it.
“But that’s the confidence in this team - that were a good enough side that we have been able to play in the conditions and to expose sides in the conditions.”
Team-mate Devin Toner also lamented an opportunity missed, saying: “It’s quite a disappointed changing room, to be honest.
“I suppose not scoring any points in the last 15 minutes kind of did us in and not being able to capitalise when we had a lot of the ball.
“You’ve go to give a bit of credit to France - they held the ball very well they built the pressure on us and we found it hard to get the ball back.”
Toner refused to blame the defeat on the six-day turnaround after last week’s draw to Wales.
“They looked after us very well this week in training,” the Leinster lock said.
“We were all on top of our recovery and we all prepared very well for the game, so I don’t think it is something we can make excuses about.”
Toner’s disappointment was all the greater as the first half went very much to plan.
“It was going really well,” the 29-year-old said.
“I think coming in at half-time at 9-3 I felt that we had the upper hand.
“It didn’t feel like they were going anywhere. It felt like our defence was quite good it didn’t feel like they were going to be able to get points.
Toner also had news on the wellbeing of Mike McCarthy, who suffered a suspected concussion in the 63rd minute and was replaced by Donnacha Ryan.
“He’s up and walking about,” he said.
“He’s feeling quite well but I don’t think he remembers the incident, so i think maybe there was a little bit of a concussion.
“He did the HIA (Head Injury Assessment) test and I think he did quite well in it, so its obviously up to the medical staff to see how he goes in the next couple of days, but obviously it was just a knock on the head and everyone can see it.
“He wanted to walk off but I don’t think he wanted to be carried off, so I think he’s not too bad.”