Considering how Ireland's Six Nations campaign started back in 2019, their bonus-point start to this campaign, and in particular the opening half of yesterday's 34-10 win against Wales feels like a real statement.

The 80 minutes as a whole was far from perfect, and their ill-discipline and kicking game in the third quarter is something that will be honed in on in the Monday review in Abbotstown.

But the nature in which they silenced the Principality Stadium during the first 40 minutes of Warren Gatland's homecoming was in stark contrast to the paralysis of their defeat to England in Dublin four years ago, when they had seemingly entered a World Cup year with the world at their feet.

In the opening quarter in Cardiff, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Wales were the side who suffered two late injury withdrawals, such was the fluidity in everything Ireland did.

There was immense pressure on the shoulders of Conor Murray. Dropped by Munster just a few weeks ago, some had questioned whether he merited his place on the Irish bench at the Principality. In a way, those people got their wish, with the scrum-half promoted to the starting team after injury to Jamison Gibson-Park on the morning of the game.

With 100 caps of experience to his name, he didn't look one bit flustered, and brought real energy and quick service to the Irish attack when they were dominant in the opening half.

In recent months, Andy Farrell has been at pains to stress how Ireland have to embrace those last minute emergencies, like Johnny Sexton pulling up in the warm-up against Australia in November last year, and Jack Crowley thrust into the deep end of Test rugby.

And the Ireland head coach said there was never any panic when they found out "mid-morning" on Saturday that both Gibson-Park and Cian Healy would be ruled out.

"We have been consistent in that. It's always been about the group and having no excuses, you can look for plenty if you search for them but you trust the squad, back the squad and putting in a performance like that just reiterates those points even more so."

Such is their newfound serenity, Farrell joked that he'd even have embraced a late bus arrival at the ground.

"The coach was going a little bit slow to the game. I was thinking, 'this would be great if we were 15 minutes late, that would really test us.'

"We got there about three minutes late, which wasn't too bad."

Those inconveniences, or opportunities as Farrell may like to call them, were on top of Tadhg Furlong's absence, with the Leinster tighthead having come up just short in his rehab on a calf injury.

Step forward Finlay Bealham for his first Six Nations start, and just his fifth start overall in Ireland colours, to look comfortable throughout, doing the bread and butter front row work without fuss, while putting in a major defensive shift with 13 tackles.

Of Ireland's four tries, their second of the game on eight minutes felt the most significant.

It's been three-and-a-half years since James Ryan last scored for Ireland, and while tryscoring was never something he'd pin his game, his score yesterday was a deserved reward for his form this season. However, chances are that he got more personal satisfaction out of his lineout steal on 63 minutes, when Wales were within five metres of the Irish line.

Ryan celebrates with friends after the full-time whistle

The 26-year-old has made a habit of producing big moments at big times this season. He did it against South Africa, pinching a lineout when South Africa were deep in the Irish 22 on the stroke of half time, and had a similar steal late in the win against Australia two weeks later.

Away from the setpiece he appears to have brought more physicality around the pitch, and his 14 tackles was third-highest of the Irish players, only Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris logging more.

Much of the narrative this week was about how Warren Gatland felt he'd been proved wrong by Johnny Sexton over his decision to leave him out of the Lions squad in 2021. He may be having similar thoughts about Ryan.