However O'Connell, a veteran of three British & Irish Lions tours, including the successful series in Australia in the summer of 2013, isn't getting carried away and knows that there will need to be improvements if Ireland are going to have a stellar 2015.
"It has been a very important year and I think we have made a lot of progress and hopefully we can really kick on from here," said O'Connell. "We certainly have a chance. We have shown that we can beat anyone on our day.
"We still don't have the strength in depth of the southern hemisphere nations so there are certain things that will have to go our way - but I think we have the potential to win a World Cup.
"I think we have made really good progress and I think we have put a great foundation in place. But there is not one Six Nations team who have not got better - if they all get better and we don't then we will go backwards."