JOE Schmidt has rued Ireland’s lack of experience and the strength of the Southern Hemisphere teams as the reasons behind their early World Cup exit.
The Ireland boss believes that his team endured a damaging 17 point deficit in the opening 15 minutes of their quarter-final defeat against Argentina because of the absence of key players Paul O'Connell and Johnny Sexton.
In the second-half, Ireland managed to reduce their opponent’s advantage to three points at 23-20.
"It probably reflected the tour de force that has been demonstrated by the Southern Hemisphere teams," Schmidt told RTÉ Sport after the match.
"We were desperate not to be part of what happened yesterday but we just didn't get the start that we needed, particularly with a group that was low on experience.
"The confidence got dented a little bit but I was incredibly proud of the way they fought their way back into the contest.”
Schmidt suggested the loss of the injured O'Connell, Sexton, and Peter O'Mahony and the suspended Sean O'Brien enabled Argentina to dominate the early stages of the game.
"That's where you need your experienced guys to settle things down, to give a little bit of direction and to keep things calm," said Schmidt.
"I felt we straggled around in that first 15 minutes. We didn't have a lot of structure.
"We got pretty tight defensively. We knew what was coming at us and I felt we could have been in control of that but to be fair to Argentina they brought both power and pace into the game.”
He also believes that Ireland’s desperation in the latter stages led to tries for Joaquin Tuculet and a second for Juan Imhoff.
"If we could have got that kick and at least drawn level it might have given us the confidence to keep control," he said.
"But in the last 15 minutes we were forcing things and chasing things and it's pretty hard to chase against a team that are really well organised, that have the sort of athletes they have.
"That allowed them to do a bit more damage on the scoreboard unfortunately.
"No matter what way it finished, if it finished today it was going to be disappointing. But it was exacerbated by that last 15 minutes."