The Irish have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the World Cup and that record stood today after they were well beaten in an epic showdown at Wellington Regional Stadium.
It was an agonising way for the previously unbeaten Pool C winners to end their tournament and Bowe accepts they will leave New Zealand thinking 'what if'.
"I'm absolutely gutted. We're a very disappointed bunch of boys," said the Ospreys winger.
"Having topped our group and beaten Australia, we were confident coming into this match.
"But we failed to do ourselves justice a bit today and this will go down as a great opportunity missed.
"We had the chance to get into the semi-finals for the first time in our history and there will be a lot of people who were disappointed."
Ireland produced their most error-strewn performance of the World Cup and failed to capitalise on their spells of domination.
"Wales came at us in the first 10 minutes with an intensity that caught us on the hop and their defence was superb," said Bowe.
"We were camped on their line but just couldn't get over the whitewash. We coughed up the ball a few times when we were under pressure.
"We had them under the cosh at certain stages but we didn't get the scores we needed. You could see them building in spirit from that.
"We suffered from tryline fever and rushed things a bit. The Welsh played very well."
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