6 Nov 2016

What a day for Irish rugby

12:52 pm on 6 November 2016

For 111 years Ireland have tried - and failed - to beat New Zealand at rugby.

Ireland beat All Blacks 2016.

Ireland beat All Blacks 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Today's's 40-29 victory over the world champions in Chicago, ending the All Blacks' record 18-match winning streak, was very sweet indeed.

Read RNZ's commentary as it happened

Only once, in 1973, had Ireland even managed to draw with the New Zealanders. In their last three games, they have come close twice, denied in 2012 by Dan Carter's late drop goal in Christchurch and by a late score a year later in Dublin.

"It's an awesome day for the Irish, not just for this team but for the 28 teams that have gone before us," fullback Rob Kearney said.

Ireland celebrate win over All Blacks 2016.

Ireland celebrate win over All Blacks 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand's players had spent much of the build-up lining up to explain how none of them wanted to be in the team who finally lost. Now they are, and they should have few complaints.

From the moment the face of Anthony Foley, the former Munster coach who died last month, appeared on the big screen at the stadium, there was something special in the air.

Ireland's players confirmed it by lining up as a figure eight, Foley's number, to face the haka. It is impossible to overstate the impact his death has had on Ireland's rugby community and how Foley would have relished this win, rooted as it was in all the best Munster virtues.

Ireland never gave an inch, disrupting New Zealand's lineout at every opportunity and hitting them when they were most valuable after Joe Moody was sin-binned for upending Robbie Henshaw.

Two tries quickly followed from Jordi Murphy and CJ Stander against the 14 men, with Conor Murphy providing a magical third with an impish break.

Ireland celebrate win over All Blacks 2016.

Ireland celebrate win over All Blacks 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

By the time Johnny Sexton added Ireland's fourth try, the chants of "Ole, ole, ole", Ireland's great football anthem, echoed round the stunned stadium. Of course, the celebrations were premature, but for once Ireland were not on the wrong end of a last-gasp sucker punch.

Instead, Henshaw popped up to secure his place in Irish legend.

There could have been no more appropriate venue.

The Chicago Cubs triumphed in baseball's world series last week after 108 years. Ireland beat New Zealand after 111 years.

Chicago, the city of dreams.