Distraught Johnny Sexton broke down on realising his groin problem would rule him out of Sunday’s quarter-final clash with Argentina.
Ireland ruled Sexton out of their last-eight Pumas battle on Saturday morning, after the linchpin fly-half pulled up after training on Friday night.
The 30-year-old fought tooth and nail to be ready for Ireland’s sixth World Cup quarter-final, but lost that battle despite head coach Joe Schmidt declaring the Leinster star 100 per cent fit on Thursday afternoon.
Ian Madigan will start Sunday’s Argentina encounter, thrust into the biggest game of his life - with Ireland coach Simon Easterby backing the 26-year-old to excel amid the maelstrom.
“Johnny Sexton trained fully yesterday,” said Easterby.
“He had a bit of tightness in there, he was sent for a scan and it showed the strain.
“He was pretty down on himself after last weekend having to come off and being the guy he is, he was exactly the same when he found out he couldn’t make it this week.
“He did everything he could.
“He trained yesterday and unfortunately it’s one of those things.
“In his position as well it’s difficult when you’re kicking, at goal and drop-outs and things like that, with a groin issue.
“You all saw what Ian Madigan did last week against France, he showed what he’s capable of, and we know he can do it again.”
Ulster’s Paddy Jackson takes a seat on the bench as Ireland chase their first-ever World Cup semi-final.
Ireland have drafted in scrum-half Isaac Boss as their replacement for injured Ulster centre Jared Payne, in a bid to offset Sexton’s loss.
Ireland are holding out hope Sexton could be fit for semi-final weekend, but obviously have not projected their plans too far at this point, mindful that Argentina pose a considerable threat on Sunday.