After an impressive first quarter, Ireland fell away badly and were routed by reigning Grand Slam champions France in Donnybrook this evening. 

The French may not be bound for their second successive Grand Slam, following a 41-26 defeat in London in week two, but they were in mean mood this evening. 

Ireland, on the other hand, were seeking to atone for a first ever defeat to Italy last time out and started reasonably with a back row including Ciara Griffin and Claire Molloy snaffling a healthy amount of possession on the floor. 

The hosts got off to an appalling start with Nichola Fryday sin-binned after two minutes when she tackled Yanna Rivoalen without the ball when the scrum half was primed to receive a pass from outhalf Pauline Bourdoin and simply fall over the line. 

The referee Ian Tempest opted not to award the penalty try - the pass was potentially too high - but flashed a yellow and Ireland fell behind immediately after with the French pack pouring over the try-line after a perfectly executed lineout maul, hooker Caroline Thomas getting the score. 

But Ireland were in defiant mood early on. Ciara Griffin responded with an inspirational try moments later, plucking the ball from the back of a retreating Irish scrum and simply powering past a host of limp tackles to score. 

Ali Miller celebrates Ireland's opening score from Ciara Griffin

A break from the electric winger Caroline Bourjon teed up France's second try for the winger on the opposite flank Ian Jason who dived over. Again, Ireland reacted well and experienced flanker Claire Molloy, much improved and one of Ireland's most impressive performers on the evening, shoved her way over from close range at the back of the ruck.

Then arrived perhaps the game's decisive period. The match remained evenly contested until the closing minutes of the half when the French manufactured two tries, devastating in their psychological significance. 

First, loose head Lise Arricastre touched down after a textbook lineout maul and then came possibly the game's killer score, when Nic a Bhaird lost the ball forward in the tackle, scrum half Rivoalen kicked into space down the right wing and Bourjan  raced onto it, beating Ali Miller to the bouncing ball and falling over for the score. 

2018 World Player of the Year Jessy Trémoulière was flawless on the conversions and the scoreboard read a highly unflattering 28-12 at the break. 

The second half never really offered a serious contest as Ireland were thoroughly physically dominated by the powerful French side, barely escaping their own half for the entirety of the third quarter. 

France's destructive carrier at number eight, Romaine Ménager, who had Irish tacklers bouncing off her all evening, bullied way through the Irish defence for the fifth French try. 

Ménager's destructiveness, however, was not merely demonstrated in the service of her own team. Just before the hour mark, Ireland were offered the faintest glimmer of a chance when the number eight was ordered off for a straight red after leading with the forearm when fending off Ciara Griffin. 

The forearm hit that saw Romaine Ménager sent off

Ireland responded with possibly their only patch of positive play in the second half. Sene Naoupu's delicious pop pass on halfway sending teenage prospect Beibhinn Parsons down the wing. 

The move ended with Ireland camped inches from the French line, spurning numerous chances to toss the ball wide to players in space. 

Finally, it was dug out and flung to the ring wing for Naoupu to dive over in the corner. 

After that, Ireland failed to make any use of the numerical advantage, a desperate lapse in concentration allowing second row Audrey Forlani to pick the ball from the back of the ruck and gallop through a gap to touch down. 

The crowd were in thoroughly downbeat mood moments later when quick hands sent substitute Marine Ménager over in the corner for France's seventh try. 

The visitors gave it both barrels in the attempt to break the half-century in the closing minutes but Ireland repelled that at least. 

France's prospects of stealing a championship from England are effectively non-existent. For Ireland, victory over Wales is essential if they're going to salvage any positive feeling from a trying championship.