They're so good at telling stories, those Irish. How there are leprechauns, how St Paddy got rid of all the snakes, how Brian Boru subdued the Vikings and became the fearsome king of all Ireland. George Best, who could drink his weight in Guinness and still out-twinkle the world on the football pitch. Leopold Bloom, in James Joyce's Ulysses, a man for whom a day was a lifetime and he spent it wandering the city, lost in the world and not entirely able to find his own soul.
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Beyond the Game - All Blacks v Ireland review with Buck Shelford and Michaela Blyde
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: The top rated All Black in Ireland clash according to Herald readers
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Irish writer has another rant over haka controversy before All Blacks' thrashing of Ireland
• 2019 Rugby World Cup: Bitter losers? Guinness' cheeky parting shot at All Blacks
Rory Best's lifetime got shrunk to 80 minutes on Saturday night and he didn't find his soul, either. Rory, not visibly related to George, was captain of the Ireland team the All Blacks left strung up along the fenceline for the magpies to peck at.
Joe Schmidt got strung up on that fence, too. He's the Ireland coach who didn't, or couldn't, keep up. Hey Joe, we don't play rugby anymore the way your guys play it – haven't you been watching?
Best and Schmidt were both retiring after this competition and they seem to have thought it would go better. But as politicians' careers end in humiliation, so too, so often, do careers in sport.
As for the All Blacks, they may be the enemy of the world, but that's the green haze of envy talking. The Irish fans sang all through the haka, but it didn't help. Time for some Yeats.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer,
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned...
Well the centre certainly won't hold if you keep dropping the ball and the opposition runs around you and even halfbacks can barge their way through to score tries. Turning and turning in the widening gyre, which is a swirling vortex like a whirlpool or the eye of a hurricane. That's about it for rugby teams that don't turn up to play, I mean really play, against the All Blacks right now.
Oh ye of little faith. All last week there was this sombreness, like we were trying on the robes of grief to see if they fitted, terrified we might find they did. Day after day, talkshow hosts counselled their listeners: we might lose, you know that don't you, please don't go and burn anything down, it's only rugby.
And so it is. Only the pretty wonderful, exhilarating, life-affirming glory of a game elevated to the sublime by hard work, skill, all that stuff, and the special quality of a team that bursts with opportunities because each player knows he can trust the next.
That, for me, was what made the Ireland game so special. The All Blacks try more things on than their opponents, because they know the next guy, and the next, will be up for it. Fit enough, good enough with his hands, fast enough, smart enough to know where to be and what to do next.
Beauden Barrett can kick and collect, knowing teammates will be on his shoulder when he does. Kieran Read can tackle hard and low, knowing Ardie Savea will be there to smuggle away the ball. And those are just the basics. Everyone in the backline can be the first receiver and not make a single mistake and it leaves the other team so totally stranded. They're still running, still tackling, but you can see them thinking, No, what? Wait!
There was so much beauty in the game. Sevu Reece, running around the back looking for a gap, which you are not supposed to do, because it's a bad habit the fast kids who don't trust their teammates learn in primary school, but then finding the gap and pressing the supercharge button to scoot through and make the most assured offloads, like that was the plan all along.
Irish saint Brian O'Driscoll used to run around the back of his players all the time, and he was terribly overrated.
Reece could have scored a try around the outside but chose to take on three defenders instead, recycled and the next guy scored. Twice, Irish penalty kicks to touch were kept in play by super confident backs who leapt, flicked the ball back in, gathered, ran and passed from nowhere, teammates suddenly all around them like they've risen from the ground, and there were the Irish, all over again, going what? No! Oh please no.
Jonny Sexton blew up at his own players before the game was half an hour old. What rubbish. The All Blacks had more players over the breakdown and made almost all the steals. Savea, leading with that bursting chest, thighs like piles driving at the ground, eyes on fire, teeth like a glowing forcefield repelling all who dared come close. Sam Cane, barely mentioned as he topped the tackle count.
And the beauty of Nigel Owens, too, conducting the players with conversation and a wagging finger, sounding like he's supervising a bit of a backyard throw-around. "He was legally on his feet, now let that be an end to it." You have to say it in a Welsh accent, like you're the only gay in the village and you're reading Dylan Thomas and everyone loves you for it. Which, I think, we all do.
Ireland had a good scrum, didn't they? Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara hongi'd when they swapped over. Heart emojis everywhere. When Beauden Barrett threw the ball to Jordie Barrett to score, he probably could have scored himself but it was like, here bro, see if you can catch this, and he threw it high and fast so Jordie had to really leap. Which he did. And scored. Wow.
Ireland had a good scrum. Good for them. And what's the deal with Joe Schmidt? He turned up in a rumpled too-big polo and sloppy ol' track pants, basically his inside clothes when he's just gonna watch the rugby on the couch, get drunk and spill chippies all down his front.
Shouldn't laugh. Those Irish, they've got Van Morrison and he's got a song called Coney Island and it goes like this.
… On and on, over the hill to Ardglass
In the jam jar autumn sunshine, magnificent
And all shining through.
Stop off at Ardglass for a couple of jars of
Mussels and some potted herrings in case
We get famished before dinner.
On and on, over the hill and the craic is good
Heading towards Coney Island.
I look at the side of your face as the sunlight comes
Streaming through the window in the autumn sunshine
And all the time going to Coney Island I'm thinking,
Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time.
Irish poetry, almost as good as New Zealand rugby. You can find it on You Tube. It can't be like this all the time, we all know that. But we can imagine. We can savour. We can say thanks, guys. What a game.