The Irish Under-21s recovered from leaking two first half tries to almost overhaul hosts France in their IRB World Championship opener, but a tired final quarter cost Mark McDermott's side.
IRB U-21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, June 9
FRANCE U-21 26 IRELAND U-21 8, Issoire
Scorers: France: Tries: Yohann Montes, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Denys Drozdz, Jacques Boussuge; Cons: Lionel Beauxis 2, Yann Fior
Ireland: Try: Stuart Philpott; Pen: Conan Doyle
Team captain Stuart Philpott scored Ireland's only try as only try as they fell to the hosts in Issoire on Friday night.
Two French tries in as many minutes at the end of the first quarter stunned the Irish. Prop Yohann Montes and replacement scrum half Sebastien Tillous-Borde both scored.
Faced with a 14-0 interval deficit, McDermott's men roared back when the hosts lost lock Denys Drozdz to a yellow card. Hooker Philpott, who was sin-binned in the opening half, plunged over for a 52nd-minute try.
Centre Conan Doyle added a penalty to squeeze Ireland to within six points but tries from Drozdz and winger Jacques Boussuge brought the evening to a disappointing end.
Afterwards, coach McDermott felt his side simply ran out of steam.
He said: "In the first half we didn't play as directly as we should have. I got the guys around at half time and re-set the direction and the rhythm was better in the second half.
"Unfortunately fatigue hit in at the most crucial time of the game and, unlike the French, we weren't able to make the most of our best chances. Now we'll go away and study the Argentines and come up with a plan accordingly."
The Under-21s' next outing is against Argentina in Cournon d'Auvergne on Tuesday afternoon (kick-off 4.00pm Irish time).
Click here for the match tracker from Friday's game.
IRB UNDER-21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - IRELAND RESULTS/FIXTURES:
Friday, June 9:
France U-21 26 IRELAND U-21 8, Issoire
Tuesday, June 13:
IRELAND U-21 v Argentina U-21, Cournon d'Auvergne, kick-off 5.00pm (4.00pm)
Saturday, June 17:
IRELAND U-21 v Georgia U-21, Issoire, 4.00pm (3.00pm)
Wednesday, June 21:
Matchday 4 - tbc
Sunday, June 25:
Matchday 5 - tbc