Departing Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said he was "heartbroken" after his team's humiliating 46-14 defeat against the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo.
Despite Ireland's recent success over New Zealand, they were no match for the two-time defending champions, who will face England next weekend for a spot in the World Cup final.
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Schmidt was unable to pinpoint the cause for his team's below-par performance, but feels his team's desire to reach a semi-final for the first time was ultimately their downfall.
The Irish have failed to progress past the quarter-final stage in all eight Rugby World Cup tournaments.
"We would have loved to get into the top four," said the Kiwi-born coach. "There are a lot of things these players have achieved, and that is the one thing that remains elusive.
"Heartbroken wouldn't be far away from how I feel and how the players feel now as we decided this was our target and maybe it consumed us a little bit, so we got distracted from our day-to-day."
Along with it being Schmidt's last game, Ireland captain Rory Best will now hang up the boots, bringing an end to a stellar career for the hooker.
Best retires with 124 test caps to his name, behind only legendary centre Brian O'Driscoll and fly-half Ronan O'Gara.
The 37-year-old feels that Ireland let the pressure of the occasion get to them, which made it easier for the Kiwis.
"There is a lot of pressure on them, and I think we allowed them to get a good start which took a little bit of the pressure off," said Best.
"Everyone talks about the pressure that's on the All Blacks before quarter-finals but when you haven't won one, and you feel you have a great coaching set-up and great group of players then maybe you put too much pressure on.
"Maybe we have been looking at this for too long and been so focused on it that we forgot to win some of the little battles along the way over the last 12 months.
"We wanted to set a bar than no Irish team has met before. We've done that numerous times over the six-and-a-half years with Joe."
Schmidt paid tribute to the All Blacks for their ruthless display, saying that even if Ireland played their A-game, they still might have lost.
"We could have played really well, and they might still have gone over the top of us. They were stifling, they made it very hard for us to breathe," he said.
"I think when I get some distance to reflect, I think it's 75-odd test matches, and we've won 75 percent of them," he said.
"There have been some incredibly good days, and I don't think they get washed away by two defeats and days where we're incredibly disappointed."
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