FOUR Munster players had starring roles as Ireland sensationally ended their 111-year wait for a win over the All-Blacks with a stunning 40-29 success at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Saturday.
Talismanic scrum-half Conor Murray scored a crucial first half try and landed a precious second half penalty as Joe Schmidt’s Ireland finally ended their search for a first win over New Zealand at the 29th attempt.
Munster winger Simon Zebo also scored one of Ireland’s five tries as Joe Schmidt’s side became just the fifth team to put 40 points on the World Champions. Clinical Ireland led 30-8 with Zebo's try on 48 minutes.
In the pack, Munster second row Donnacha Ryan as simply immense as Ireland won the forward battle against their highly rated opponents, while his provincial team mate CJ Stander also contributed handsomely to the historic win, striking for a precious Irish try in the opening period.
Limerick hooker Sean Cronin, currently playing with Leinster, also made a significant contribution to the success after coming off the replacements’ bench in the second half.
It was the first time since August 2014 that New Zealand had lost a Test match. The Irish win ended the Kiwis 18-game unbeaten run.
Tries from Jordi Murphy, Stander and Murray helped Ireland to a 25-8 half-time lead, before Zebo scored his side's fourth try in the corner.
The world champions fought back to move to within four points, but Robbie Henshaw's late try ensured the victory.
The sides will meet in another Test match at the Aviva Stadium in two weeks' time.
On an historic day in Chicago, Ireland appeared to be fuelled by the memory of former international and Munster head coach Anthony Foley, who died suddenly last month.
Prior to kick-off, the Ireland players lined up in the shape of a number eight, the jersey worn with distinction by Foley for many years, while their opponents performed their traditional pre-match haka.
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St Mary's College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Jack McGrath (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster). Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht), Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster).
NEW ZEALAND: Ben Smith (Otago/Highlanders); Waisake Naholo (Taranaki/Highlanders), George Moala (Auckland/Blues), Ryan Crotty (Canterbury/Crusaders), Julian Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes); Beauden Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Manawatu/Highlanders); Joe Moody (Canterbury/Crusaders), Dane Coles (Wellington/Hurricanes), Owen Franks (Canterbury/Crusaders), Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland/Blues), Jerome Kaino (Auckland/Blues), Liam Squire (Tasman/Highlanders), Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs), Kieran Read (Canterbury/Crusaders) (capt). Replacements: Codie Taylor (Canterbury/Crusaders), Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Auckland/Blues), Charlie Faumuina (Auckland/Blues), Scott Barrett (Canterbury/Crusaders), Ardie Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes), TJ Perenara (Wellington/Hurricanes), Aaron Cruden (Manawatu/Chiefs), Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland/Highlanders).
REFEREE: Mathieu Raynal (France)