The 2011 Rugby World Cup ended with Ireland in a familiar situation: elimination at the quarter-final stage. That the loss was inflicted by a fellow Six Nations side - Wales - hurt even more. Losing out to a southern hemisphere team just feels easier to accept.
Hours after the game, Paul O'Connell lay in bed at the team's Wellington hotel, unable to sleep. He felt he had two options, either lay in bed unable to sleep or get up and go for a walk. That walked turned out to be to the pub.
Paul O'Connell 2011 World Cup drinking session
In his autobiography, 'The Battle', released this week, O'Connell details the 24-hour drinking session which he embarked upon that night.
I got dressed, pulled my hood up and went walking. I texted Rog and asked where he was.
2.40 am: Text from Rog: 'We're at Cully's bar. Come on down.'
2.50 am: The Four Kings, on the Corner of Taranaki and Dixon Street. Christian Cullen's place was empty apart from a few rugby supporters, Rog, Johnny Sexton, Sean Cronin, Who was providing the entertainment, and a few more of the lads. I hadn't even been thinking about having a drink, but someone ordered me a beer.
Nearly three hours later, O'Connell was headed back to the hotel. It was here he found two new and willing drinking partners - a Drogheda man dressed as a leprechaun and Fergus McFadden.
5.30 am: On my way back to the hotel I met a man from Drogheda dressed as a leprechaun. Then I ran into Fergus McFadden, so we had a couple more in the bar — me, Fergus and the leprechaun. Before we knew it, it was nine o'clock.
9.30 am: The D4 bar, 143 Featherston Street. We ordered the $20 Big Brekkie — bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato, mushrooms and hash browns on toast, which read better than it tasted. Sometimes the leprechaun was full of chat, but other times he fell quiet and me and Fergus gave out to him for not contributing more to the conversation. I was drinking some kind of sparkling wine because I couldn't stomach anything else.
10.30 am: The leprechaun ordered whiskeys all round.
Hours later, the leprechaun jettisoned, he found some more familiar individuals to sip with - his parents. Later he would again meet up with Fergus McFadden and also three Munster teammates.
1 pm: A few beers with Mam and Dad back at the hotel.
2.30 pm: I bumped into John Eales, one of the great second-rows, in the hotel lobby. We'd never met and we spoke for a few minutes about this and that, before I headed back to the D4 for a few more drinks.
5 pm: (approximately): Some other place.
8.30 pm: The Establishment bar, on the corner of Courtenay Place and Blair Street: me and Fergus again.
11 pm: Subway restaurant, 23 Courtenay Place: One Chicken Temptation.
11.20 pm: I was on my way back to the hotel when I bumped into some of the staff from 02, the team sponsor. So we had a drink.
12.15 am: Monday: I was on my way back to the hotel when I bumped into Keith Earls, Damien Varley and Donnacha Ryan. I had a few more drinks with them, and then I felt hungry again.
2.15 am: McDonald's, 200 Courtenay Place: one Big Mac meal. Me: 'I'm definitely going back now.' Earlsy: 'I'll go with you.'
Like many of us, O'Connell sometimes doesn't know when to quit. It took Keith Earls - seven years his junior - putting his foot down for O'Connell to finally call it a night.
Such was his appearance when he stepped onto the team bus the next morning, he received an apt nickname due to his condition.
2.40 am: We came upon Electric Avenue, 132 Courtenay Place. Me: Earlsy, look at this place! It's eighties music night!' Earlsy: 'We're going home.' Me: Ah come on! You know how much I love Eighties music!' Earlsy: 'We're going home, Paulie.' Me: Ah go on! We'll just go in for one and listen to the music.' Earlsy: 'No. We've enough for one night.'
3.15 am: I set the alarm on my phone for nine.
9 am: After the alarm rang, it took me a few seconds to figure out where I was. Then came the realization that I had spent more than twenty-four hours escaping our defeat, not dealing with it. We were due on the bus at ten. I mustn't have looked too good when I boarded it. I got a new nickname that day: The Corpse.
Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE