One of Paul O'Connell's final acts in an Irish jersey had many of his teammates in tears
It was not supposed to end like this but, by some cruel wrench of fate, it has.
Paul O'Connell is expected to be ruled out of the rest of Ireland's Rugby World Cup campaign later today.
The Ireland captain was stretchered off at the Millennium Stadium, on Sunday, after sustaining a significant hamstring injury.
All Joe Schmidt, his coach, would confirm after Ireland's 24-9 victory over France was that he was most worried about the lock.
There was no need to dampen the euphoria so soon after Ireland's combative win but only a miracle will keep O'Connell's remarkable Ireland career alive.
Still, the Limerick native left his team with a rousing dressing room speech before kick-off in Wales.
Irish flanker Chris Henry revealed, "Paulie spoke really well before the game; he had everyone in tears.
"I know every player is just desperate to get Paulie back because, if that’s his last outing in a green jersey, it will be very, very sad."
"Before the match we talked about being clinical and taking our chances, all these buzzwords, but today we knew it was going to take more from us and we’d be going somewhere deeper.
"The words Paulie provided definitely got the best of everyone."
Speaking on Monday morning, Rob Kearney said O'Connell had managed to get into the Irish dressing room after the match.
"Paul was beaming from ear to ear at the end," Kearney commented. "It's small moments at the end that make changing rooms pretty special."
When a broken arm ruled O'Connell out of the 2013 Lions Tour, he remained in Australia to offer support, advice and tactical acumen to Warren Gatland's side.
While we may not see the 35-year-old line out for his country again, we may not have seen the last of him at this World Cup yet.