Six Nations 2019: Cardiff disappointment will help fuel Ireland - Kearney
Ireland full-back Rob Kearney says the comprehensive 25-7 defeat by Grand Slam champions Wales will motivate them to improve as the countdown begins to the Rugby World Cup in Japan in the autumn.
Defending champions Ireland finished third in this year's Six Nations.
"You have to bank all these tough days. There's no doubt about it, that was a tough day [in Cardiff]," said Kearney.
"We just need to make sure we use days like that to our advantage. We need to come together and close rank a bit."
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"We must never lose focus with how good we are as players and as a team," added the Leinster number 15.
"We still have a huge amount of confidence in terms of what we can achieve. We just need to be realistic that there's lots of other really good teams out there too.
"It was tough watching one of your competing nations lift trophies.
"So, that is a memory. It's a picture that will live with all of us a long time over the next few months, and it will be brewing away."
Hadleigh Parkes crossed for a smart try and Gareth Anscombe booted 20 points as Wales almost kept Ireland scoreless at the Principality Stadium.
Jordan Larmour went over in added time as Ireland avoided failing to score in a Test match for the first time since 2012.
"It was pretty disappointing. They played pretty well, to be fair to them. Their defence is very good," continued the British and Irish Lion.
"Our discipline was quite poor and they just kept the scoreboard ticking along nicely. All of a sudden, we had a big old mountain to climb.
"We had this incredible year last year, and after every game, we always said that the margins were small.
"We've done really well to win, and then this year we have come out the other side of that.
"Now, albeit the manner in some of the games, you can't say that the margins are small because there have been a couple of heavy enough defeats."
Kearney admits Ireland are braced for heavy criticism after slipping from Grand Slam champions to mid-table in the space of a year but they must hang on to their Cardiff frustrations to fuel their fire for the World Cup.
"There was a huge backlash after the England defeat, there was a little bit of a backlash after the Italian game, albeit we had won with a bonus point but hadn't played particularly well," said Kearney.
"I'm sure there will be lots said about us as players and as a team over the coming weeks, but that's part of being professional athletes as well."