The clash of Celtic cousins always had the makings of a tough, hard-fought derby, but the damaging tackle inflicted by Neil Taylor of Wales on Irish skipper Seamus Coleman took the level of intensity to another, unacceptable level.
With 25 minutes of the game remaining, I'm thinking that a point will be a decent result given our lack of cutting edge in the final third but the sending-off changed the whole complexion of the game and left me thinking what might have been.
The scoreline revealed a night where they were no losers. But there was one, and it lay screaming into the clear, icy chill of the night sky as Seamus Coleman lay prostrate on the turf, clutching in stunned, almost catatonic disbelief, the instrument of his profession.
From the worst of weeks James McClean managed, somehow, to find the best of himself. He did so in the only way he knows, working the bellows of a big football crowd, audibly, appreciative of workaday qualities like high effort and competitive integrity.
Ireland's Group D rivals Serbia stayed on course to reach their first major tournament in eight years after goals from Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Mijat Gacinovic gave them a 3-1comeback win over Georgia in their World Cup qualifier last night.