Ireland held out for almost two sessions on the final day of the first Test series but they could not prevent a second successive innings defeat by Sri Lanka in Galle.

The loss of Paul Stirling for a single and the next three batsmen all getting into double figures but failing to reach 14 was the beginning of the end and, despite a heroic 85 from Harry Tector, Ireland fell 10 runs short of even making their hosts bat again.

Another bumper barrage from Asitha Fernando accounted for Lorcan Tucker and the steady off spin of Ramesh Mendis sent back Curtis Campher and Andy McBrine, having already dismissed skipper Andrew Balbirnie.

The captain’s dismissal was probably the softest of the lot – a mistimed drive to mid-off - but it was his second innings because he had to retire having been hit on the grille of his helmet from a 90mph ball by Asitha.

It was the worst possible start to the day because as Balbirnie said afterwards “if we had got through the first half hour it could set up the day” so when Stirling then drove low to cover in the next over, it was always going to be an uphill task.

“You have to give credit to the way Sri Lanka bowled,” added the captain. “Asitha bowled with real accuracy and made it hostile and naturally their spinners came into the game again, bowling with really good accuracy but, I’m disappointed because we felt we could get a draw out of that game, the wicket was still good enough to bat (through) the day - but it wasn’t to be.”

Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne summed up what he thought of the pitch, when everyone expected spin twins Mendis and player of the match Prabath Jayasuriya to continue where they had left off on Thursday evening, by giving the first over to his fastest bowler.

Asitha had shown his speed and hostility in the first innings but this morning’s ‘short stuff’ was up a gear. He also nailed Tector on the helmet – he was fit to continue – and in his next over Tucker’s attempt to fend one away from his body ended with him deflecting the ball onto his stumps.

After a seven over spell – which yielded only 14 runs – he was rested and Curtis Campher and Tector looked a lot more comfortable. So it was a surprise, and disappointment, when Campher turned Mendis straight to leg slip with only 12 to his name.

Balbirnie had recovered sufficiently to replace him and for 10 overs either side of lunch, it was plain sailing as the captain and Tector added 39 runs.

After hitting two fours in an over off Jayasuriya, Balbirnie was just a boundary away from his fourth Test 50 when he gave his wicket away to leave Ireland six down and still 60 overs left in the day.

Andy McBrine had batted 55 overs in Dhaka but here the North West Warriors captain lasted only eight before Mendis found the edge of his bat and the ball went straight to slip.

Graham Hume was also caught behind in the off spinner’s next over so when Matthew Humphreys came in at No 10, Tector was on 48.

The young Lisburn bowler may have had a difficult Test debut as a bowler but he can be proud of this innings as he outstayed Ireland’s in-form batsman who, after bringing up his third Test half-century, enjoyed himself against the spinners hitting three fours and two sixes off them in the space of 13 balls.

Tector’s best shot would actually prove to be his last scoring one, a magnificent pulled six of Asitha. Unfortunately, he was bowled by the pace man two balls later for 85 and when Ben White missed his first ball, Ireland were in the record books – the first team to score more than 480 in the first innings of a Test and lose by an innings.

But summing up the feeling of playing three Tests in the space of three and a half weeks – as many as they had played in the previous five years – Balbirnie said the players had loved the challenge.

“Mentally the last three weeks have been draining, although if that first match had gone five days with only a three-day turnaround to the next five-day match it is not what our bodies are used to.

“But I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s still the best format of cricket in my opinion and to come to Galle and compete with a team like Sri Lanka is really exciting. It’s tough, very tough but we were in amongst it for large parts of the games and we can take positives from that.”