Eddie O'Sullivan said Ireland are now arguably the best side on the planet after a coming-of-age defeat of the All Blacks that had the Aviva Stadium fizzing with pride.
Ireland deservedly beat New Zealand 16-9 in a terrific game in Dublin, with Jacob Stockdale running in for a stunning try in the second half.
The Kiwis came into this as the No 1-ranked team in the world and remain so, but Joe Schmidt's men - ranked No 2 - are coming up the hill.
"Today Irish rugby has come of age," O'Sullivan said on the RTÉ panel.
"There were times when we flirted with the top five [in the world]. It's now real. We are arguably the best team in the world. I know we're second in the rankings but we were the better team today by a mile.
"We played absolutely brilliantly, they played brilliantly, but we held them off. They kept at it till the very end. They didn't do anything except keep plugging away.
"But we had the character to keep defending, defending, defending. This is it. We all talked before the game, the best team were going to walk away. And we walked away. We've come of age as a rugby nation."