But a knock to the knee picked up in that game prevented him from appearing in Ireland's two remaining Championship games against Scotland and England.
He then injured the knee again, doing damage to his medial ligaments, in Munster's 36-8 Pro 12 win over Ulster in May, ruling him out of Ireland's three-Test summer tour of New Zealand.
That left the 32-year-old as a helpless spectator to Ireland's three defeats against the World Champions, although they did push them close in the second Test before going down 22-19 to a late Dan Carter drop-goal.
And last season's pains are being carried forward as O'Connell's pre-season training has been severely hampered by his persistent affliction, leaving the giant lock in restless mood.
"I thought I'd be further down the track that I am now," he told the Irish Times. "I suppose I thought I might have had a chance of playing in New Zealand but when I didn't go I thought surely I'll be back and ready for the start of pre-season. Unfortunately I wasn't. I am back doing running now this last week and a half and hope to be back fully into it at the end of this week.
"I have had about four weeks' hard work with the physio under my belt and it has been brilliant. While the internationals were away I got a lot of work done by myself, but it has been frustrating.
"I'd love to have had four or five weeks of a good pre-season under my belt or running. I have plenty of weights done and plenty of skills down, but I haven't got the running, the hard slog done like some of the boys. "Hopefully next week I can get into that."