Rory McIlroy inspired Great Britain and Ireland to an incredible final afternoon fightback in the Walker Cup.

But his brilliant 4&2 win over Billy Horschel was not enough as the United States ran out 12 1/2 - 11 1/2 winners to retain the trophy at Royal County Down.

The odds were stacked against Colin Dalgleish’s Great Britain and Ireland side when they lost all four of the morning foursomes to trail 10-6.

But with the USA needing just two points from the eight singles to tie and retain the title - and two and a half to win - McIlroy’s victory at No 1 provoked a dramatic afternoon backlash.

McIlroy said: “We said early on in the team room to just remember what happened at Nairn in ‘99 and the Belfry in the Ryder Cup in 2002. If you can get some good points on the board early it feeds through the team. I’m happy that I managed that today.”

McIlroy’s win inspired Rhys Davies and Lloyd Saltman to win their games.

And when that was followed by a dramatic half by Danny Willett against US No 1 Colt Knost and a superb victory by Ulsterman Jonny Caldwell, there was still a chance of an Irish miracle in Co Down.

But Jamie Lovemark’s 4 and 3 win over England’s Jamie Moul left the US needing just half a point to retain the title.

And it was delivered in dramatic style by Jonathan Moore when rifled a 250 yard four-iron to just four feet at the par-five 18th to beat Welshman Nigel Edwards by one hole with an incredible eagle three.

Moore, who turns pro today, said: “It’s unbelievable. I never dreamed it would get that close. It came off perfect. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m just really thankful.”

GB&I had the satisfaction of winning the singles series 5 1/2 to 1 1/2.

And skipper Dalgleish confessed that he was proud of his boys and hopeful that the R&A would name him skipper for a revenge mission at Merion in 2009.

He said: “I’m gutted that it’s over. Gutted for the team. I said to them whatever happened today I would’ve been proud of them. This morning cost us big time. To lose the foursomes 4-0 was an absolute killer.”

The sides tied 6-6 after Saturday’s play when star players McIlroy and Saltman won just half a point from their four matches.

McIlroy lost his Saturday singles to Horschel on the final green, three-putting from 25 feet to lose by one hole.

He failed again in the foursomes with Caldwell as they blew a four-up lead after five holes to lose 2&1 to Horschel and 18-year-old Californian Rickie Fowler.

But he made amends in the singles when he crushed Horschel by 4&2 to get GB&I’s first point of a rollercoaster afternoon.

An eagle three at the first sent him on his way and he was delighted to send a positive message to the rest of the team,

McIlroy said: “I played very well today and I made my intentions clear with an eagle on the first. I didn’t want him to beat me twice today

McIlroy eagled the first from just 12 feet to go one up, punched the air and roared “Come on” to himself - a privilege he deserved after enduring Horschel’s repeated cries of “Yeah, baby” and “Oh yeah, baby, that’s the one.”

Four birdies in seven holes from the ninth put McIlroy three up before closing out the match at the 337 yard, par-four 16th.

Both players drove the green but Horschel’s birdie putt from five feet lipped out, giving McIlroy a victory that almost sparked a revolution.