Ireland’s self-belief will hit new heights after Saturday’s last-gasp triumph over France in Paris, according to Conor Murray.
Johnny Sexton’s nerveless added-time drop-goal sealed Ireland’s 15-13 NatWest 6 Nations victory at the Stade de France, leaving Murray heaping the plaudits on his half-back partner.
Ireland ploughed through near-on 40 phases when Sexton landed the winning goal in the third minute of added time at the death, after Teddy Thomas’ converted try had stunned the visitors and stolen Les Bleus the late 13-12 lead.
Sexton kept his cool to dispatch his long-range drop-goal however, sparking jubilant Irish celebrations - but also, according to Murray, cranking up the never-say-die attitude in Joe Schmidt’s men.
Asked how the nature of the win would boost Ireland psychologically, Murray replied: “It’s huge; it’s going to be a completely different Monday now.
“Doubts do creep into your head and you’re trying to stay positive throughout all that.
“It was so important for us to get a win here, and it means we can refocus on the next game against Italy on Monday now.
“If we were to lose it would change the complexion of our entire Six Nations, everyone knows that.”
Ireland can roll into three successive home matches now, with Italy, Wales and Scotland all heading to Dublin, before the Twickenham showdown with England on March 17.
As Ireland nudged upfield, inching further into French territory at the death on Saturday, Murray admitted he and Sexton exchanged no words in setting up the drop-goal attempt.
Instead Murray revealed a simple flick of Sexton’s eyebrows proved enough for both British and Irish Lions half-backs to know what was coming next.
And after a slow-motion age for the ball to land over the posts, Murray conceded Ireland’s giddy stars “celebrated like footballers” on the Stade de France turf.
“You’ve got a rough idea of the distance he needs for a drop-goal, and then you’re communicating with the forwards but also keeping an eye on him,” said Murray, recalling the set-up for that winning goal.
“I think it was just a look really. You can judge by his body language, and then he just gave me a flick of the eyebrows to know he needed it, we got a bit of momentum and a quick ruck, and that was perfect for us.
“Sometimes it doesn’t work. It’s a really difficult thing to do, so as a team I thought it was a really clinical way to close out the game.
“After Johnny had struck it when I turned around he was all the way down the other end of the field in the 22.
“He claims he was going down to look at the other screen but there was one right in front of him. I knew when he struck it it looked like it had the legs.
“They are the moments you’ll remember forever, when you’re just ecstatic.
“I’m sure we’ll get a bit of stick for it in the review, for celebrating like footballers, but it was natural. They are the moments you really enjoy.
“It happened in slow-motion, it was a surreal moment, but great.”