Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan saw his Grand Slam hopes ended by a "formidable" French team in Dublin - but he retains hope of hitting back to claim the RBS 6 Nations Triple Crown.
Two Christophe Dominici tries and one from impressive debutant Benoit Baby were enough for a 26-19 victory to revive French championship hopes, despite a second-half score under the posts from Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll.
O'Sullivan was briefly optimistic of a winning rally following O'Driscoll's try but admitted France deserved their victory for a commanding display, especially in the first half.
"They played particularly well in the first half; they were very strong and made us work hard. It was very frustrating, and they topped it off with two tries," he told BBC1.
There was nonetheless much in the Ireland performance to keep O'Sullivan confident they are capable of regrouping for what could still be a championship decider against Wales in Cardiff next weekend.
"A weaker team would have fallen away, but I think our second-half performance was excellent," he said.
"When Brian scored under the posts there were still six minutes left, and the game was there.
"But this French team have won two Grand Slams in three years. They are a formidable outfit - and they deserved to win.
"We could have won, but the margins are very tight at this level. The try (from Dominici) at the end was a real killer - we didn't deserve that."
O'Sullivan is not about to give up hope yet - even though Wales and France now appear to be in stronger positions to claim the championship.
"There is still the Triple Crown," he said.
"The fellows are feeling very down at the moment. But you just have to get on with it. We have to pick ourselves up, get back on the horse and start again next week."
England Under-18 head coach John Fletcher insists his young side will be better for the experience after beating Italy in the bronze final to round out their 2015 Rugby Europe U18 Championship campaign in style.