After a full house in the Aviva, the journey back to normality continues next weekend with a trip to Paris and the Irish support will travel with some hope.

The novelty of foreign travel after two years will be one cause for optimism, but also Saturday's 29-7 dismantling of a poor Wales side at a packed Aviva Stadium.

Tournament favourites France don't get their first runout until this afternoon, and while it may be hard to gauge much against perennial whipping boys Italy, it is almost guaranteed Fabien Galthie's dynamic and powerful side will offer a very different proposition to Wayne Pivac's depleted and dispirited Wales.

The stadium on Lansdowne Road was rocking after three minutes when Bundee Aki touched down and while the scoring rate slowed, thanks in no small part to a blustery wind that played havoc with Johnny Sexton's kicks at goals, Ireland played with the vibrancy that defined their November wins over Japan, New Zealand and Argentina.

"Running at space," was Bernard Jackman's big takeaway from Ireland's attacking performance. "Their variety and ability to move the ball, left or right.

"It's a big carry on from November, Ireland's ability to run at space and that is not always wide. It is wherever you see the opportunity."

Debutant Mack Hansen was one to continuously seek out these opportunities and he was rightly awarded the player of the match award, but Andrew Conway scored two tries, Garry Ringrose looked back to his best in the centre, while Josh van der Flier was a constant danger with the ball in hand.

This abundance of talent is key to Farrell's gameplan says Jamie Heaslip, because if everyone can pass and everyone can run, then the opposition have too many dangers to plan for.

"Their whole game is built around options now. You look at the attack now, the reason they are able to put Josh van der Flier through the gap is because everyone is a real option, everyone can pass, everyone is running live lines.

"Guys out the back can get it or they can hit the front door or they can express it straight to the edge with Jamison Gibson-Park and his passing.

"If you're a team reviewing Ireland after this game you're thinking you have to be alive on everything because if you switch off, as Wales did, Ireland will carve you apart."

Without the ball Ireland are returning to the mantra of the Joe Schmidt days: Avoid giving away penalties and good things happen (or bad things happen to the opposition).

Ireland conceded six penalties to Wales' 14, but remarkably none in the first 50 minutes. Some Welsh fans will shake their heads at this astonishing feat, but Jaco Peyper saw little about Ireland's play to dislike for more than half the game.

Throw in the competition for places next week thanks to a lack of injuries and it looks like a decent scenario heading for Paris.

Mack Hansen versus James Lowe, Robbie Henshaw versus Bundee Aki, Iain Henderson versus Ryan Baird, Ronan Kelleher versus Dan Sheehan, Caelan Doris versus Peter O'Mahony... Andy Farrell is surrounded by pleasant migraines.


The optimism that comes off the back of four impressive Test wins at home is always dangerous, especially when your next stop is Saint Denis. Keeping the lid on premature talk of championships will be a job for midweek.

Dealing with Les Bleus will be a job for Saturday afternoon.

Specifically, from an Irish context, the France issue is not so much their flamboyant backs, led by Antoine Dupont, but the pack that play in front of them.

"Going forward, bigger more physical packs, where Ireland have struggled in the past will be the test," reckons Stephen Ferris.

Yesterday told us a little, next Saturday will reveal a lot more.