Paul O'Connell's hopes of participating in Ireland's summer tour to New Zealand and Australia were dashed yesterday afternoon when he conceded defeat in his battle with a groin problem.
In a further blow to Irish hopes of securing a first win against the All Blacks, hooker Rory Best was also forced to withdraw from the 33-man squad because of an ankle injury. Best is replaced by Leinster's John Fogarty while O'Connell's spot is taken by Ed O'Donoghue of Ulster.
O'Connell was a surprise inclusion in the initial squad named by coach Declan Kidney 10 days ago after appearing to have played his last game this season.
The Lions captain has been out since incurring his groin problem in the RBS 6 Nations finale against Scotland on March 20 and has since received intravenous antibiotics in a Cork hospital.
Having suffered various setbacks during recovery, Kidney decided to give him every chance to prove his fitness for the tour but O'Connell and the Irish management yesterday learnt he would play no part.
Best had missed most of the season after undergoing surgery on a serious neck injury last summer only to make a remarkable recovery and return ahead of schedule.
The news robs Kidney of valuable experience, with back-rowers Stephen Ferris and Denis Leamy and back Luke Fitzgerald already missing from the trip Down Under.