Paul O’Connell tries to hold up a Welsh maul at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The theatre superstition has it that a bad dress rehearsal makes for a good opening night, so Joe Schmidt and the Irish squad will not be panicking af(...)

Darren Cave is set to provide midfield cover for Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payneat the World Cup. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

As has been the case with other World Cup squad selections, there was always going to be some risk-taking when Joe Schmidt and his coaches finalise(...)

Justin Tipuric is tackled by Ireland’s Iain Henderson on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

On Friday I felt Wales required a bigger performance than Ireland. That certainly arrived and that Ireland couldn’t dictate as they did in Cardiff is (...)

Paul O’Connell speaks to the team before the Wales game. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Rob Kearney 7 And he’s only getting started. Didn’t really attack the Welsh like he would in a full metal jacket affair but was his usual dominant sel(...)

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney rises high to claim the ball ahead of Wales outhalf Dan Biggar at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Fittingly the heavens opened for the last quarter, which suited the team in front, which was deservedly Wales. And so it was that the Red Dragonhood r(...)

Ireland’s Keith Earls tackles George North resulting in him being taken off injured during the World Cup warm-up match against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

All the indications in the aftermath of Saturday’s anti-climactic end to Paul O’Connell’s magnificent Test career on home soil, along with Ireland’(...)

Iain Henderson in action against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. “We gave Wales three silly penalties, three shots at goal and they took them.” Photograph: Reuters

The numbers confirm the visual aesthetics of Iain Henderson’s high-calibre performance at the Aviva Stadium. Henderson made more tackles (12) than an(...)

Ireland flanker Jordi Murphy had a tough day against the outstanding Justin Tipuric of Wales during the World Cup warm-up at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Iain Henderson or Devin Toner? It’s not really a tough call anymore. The second best forward in Ireland these past six months, this 23-year-old Craiga(...)

Paul O’Connell enters into the tunnel along with his son Paddy after playing his final Irish international at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Fifteen minutes before the match started he had the Irish team in a huddle, led them from the front around the pitch to light ripples of applause from(...)

Ireland’s Iain Henderson in action in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:   Cathal McNaughton/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic 11:57

Ireland 10 Wales 16 The cascading rain that enveloped the Aviva stadium for the final 10 minutes of the contest provided a suitably leaden hued backdr(...)