But that Ireland can dream of a debut Test win on Tuesday after being made to follow-on by Pakistan is remarkable, even if there's no "Miracle at Malahide".This is the 2,303rd men's Test played since Australia and England established the format at Melbourne in 1877.
O'Brien became the first player to score a Test century for Ireland and he was there at the close on 118 not out, with his 114-run partnership with Stuart Thompson (53) for the seventh wicket proving decisive.
With Pakistan requiring 160 to win, Ireland sensed the possibility of a sensational victory, quickly reducing their opponents to 14/3.
The fourth-wicket stand between Imam and Babar, eventually worth 126, steered Pakistan away from calamity, but it was one that Ireland should have broken when the game was still very much alive.
Ireland could not afford any missed opportunities and Andrew Balbirnie, who got a pair with the bat, endured another moment to forget at third slip when he put down Azam from his first ball faced in the second session.
Irrespective of the result, Ireland had shown going into the final day that they belonged in test cricket, and their final day performance further rubber stamped this statement - arriving into the Test cricket world with notable merit.
Chasing 160 to win, Pakistan slumped to 14-3 and looked in real danger of becoming just the fourth team to lose a test after enforcing the follow-on.
"We've just got to start off well tomorrow, try and get as many runs as we can and if we get a crack at them try and get them a couple down early and see where we go from there".
The visitors, who will take on England in a two-Test series starting on 24 May, were left reeling by Murtagh and Rankin's opening spell.
At lunch the hosts were 123 for four, still needing 57 more to reach Pakistan's first-innings total. There were a hell of a lot of good things to come out of this game, we played a lot of good cricket.
Mohammad Abbas, benefiting from plenty of swing movement in overcast conditions, took the final three wickets of Ireland's second innings, including century-maker Kevin O'Brien.
"It's something that's been talked about during big occasions, World Cups". There's no reason why we can't, we've just got to try and start off well tomorrow and try and get as many runs as we can.
"I think the way they played gives great confidence to the team and will help them in the next matches as well". "This Test match has gone a long way to providing the next generation of cricketers I'm sure".
With a performance to silence any who doubted if they deserved their place at cricket's top table, Ireland almost produced what would have been one of the sport's most unexpected results, coming back from the indignity of the follow on to push Pakistan all the way.