Andy Farrell praised his Ireland players for overcoming adversity after putting Wales at the sword of the Six Nations in Cardiff.
Ireland secured a 34-10 victory at the Principality Stadium, their first Six Nations win on Welsh soil since 2013, with tries from Caelan Doris, James Ryan, James Lowe and Josh van der Flier securing a bonus points victory for the world number. -a ranked team.
It came after scrum half Jamison Gibson-Park was ruled out with a hamstring injury just hours before kick-off, with veteran Conor Murray recruited to win his 101st match.
“He showed the strength of the group by getting through that,” head coach Farrell said of the late switch to his starting XV.
“Three or four of them hadn’t played rugby for a long time, and we’ve also had two or three injuries this week.
“What happened this morning could have disturbed anyone, but there are no excuses.
“We prepare as a group of 37 or 38 and hope to act. We trust and support the team to perform and this reiterates it”.
Ireland were all but out of sight at half time having scored three tries and opened up a commanding 27-3 lead.
Wales improved massively in the second half through a Liam Williams cross, but the side’s yellow card for a high tackle on Johnny Sexton ended any hope of a comeback.
Farrell said: “I’m delighted to get off to a good start because as we all know this is a really tough place to start the campaign. Our story says exactly that.
“But our preparation has been top notch and we got what we deserved.
“At the same time, there is a lot to do, fix and improve. It’s not a bad place to be.”
Ireland host defending champions France in Dublin for their second championship match next Saturday.
Skipper Sexton said: “It’s just a start, but if you get a bad result, the Triple Crown and Grand Slam are lost.
“It all comes down to next week. That’s the beauty of the competition, all five games are tough, and none tougher than next week; The team that hasn’t been beaten in a year.”
Warren Gatland returned to command of Wales after Wayne Pivac’s three-year reign came to an end in December.
Gatland oversaw a golden era for Wales between 2008 and 2019, but this was a sobering lesson in just how low the national team has sunk in his absence.
“I think the slow start was because we conceded some penalties which gave them the momentum to get to our 22,” said Gatland, who confirmed Wales will be without cap record holder Alun Wyn Jones in Scotland next week. after the second-row forward failed a head injury evaluation.
“We didn’t get a good enough start to start the game and we were 14 points down and under pressure.
“But I thought the second half was a big improvement. At the end of the game I said in my head that I really wasn’t that disappointed with our performance.
“I think there’s a lot of upside to us and in the past we’ve been able to work hard and fix things.”
Asked if he had time to do it before traveling to Murrayfield, Gatland said: “I think so. We will continue to work on that and ask players to look at themselves and be pretty tough.
“There were definitely good times. We made some good breaks and had some really good momentum on the 22nd, but we just didn’t get those points.”