Last weekend's win over New Zealand was good for the soul, and it also reminded that trusting Joe Schmidt is a creditable act; better to ignore those who write headlines along the lines of Schmidt being the worst selector/coach in the history of Irish rugby.
Schmidt helped mastermind the victory in Soldier Field victory last weekend, having brought us agonisingly close to beating them in Dublin in 2013.
Given the fact victory followed that excruciating defeat, it has been understood that Ireland learned lessons from three years ago to finally overcome the ABs in Chicago. This has been understood as a kind of nebulous truth, and now Kevin McLaughlin - who played in those closing minutes of 2013 - has told of exactly how it changed.
McLaughlin was part of the Saturday Panel on today's Off The Ball, and elaborated on a point made by Brian O'Driscoll made on the same show. O'Driscoll told listeners that, after the 2013 defeat, Schmidt would end training sessions with an intense drill lasting 3 minutes and 32 seconds, as this was the average time the All Blacks need in the closing stages of a game to go through twenty-odd phases before making space to cross for a try in the corner.
McLaughlin told of what these drills consisted of, but most intriguing is the fact that Schmidt lengthened these drills by 32 seconds following the 2013 defeat, in which Ireland came up just short.
Joe used to do this drill with us all the time. It was basically three minutes, and it was completely open play, 15 on 15. Joe would create different scenarios in those three minutes, and you would run through them at really high intensity, trying to recreate what it would be like in a game. It was some conditioning, but mostly skill work and just trying to implement what it would be like at the end of a game.
I think Joe maybe blamed himself a little bit that we had done three minutes and not three minutes 32 seconds or whatever that All Blacks figure is. I think the way the game is going, 20-phase defensive sets in three or four minutes at the very top level, Joe is pushing the boat out in terms of conditioning and it showed at the weekend. We got the last score.
A stark illustration of the massive benefits to be reaped from small margins.
You can listen to the full panel discussion with McLaughlin, Jake Heenan and Eddie O'Sullivan on the Newstalk website.