However, the performance against opposition ranked 11th in the world reinforced concerns that Ireland have significant problems, and while O'Driscoll refuses to panic at the team's downward trajectory, he admits the win was well-timed.
"I wouldn't say it's a relief to have won because in the end I'd say we were worth our win," said the captain. "It's nice to get back to winning ways and remind ourselves of that feeling."
Samoa dominated the second half until Ronan O'Gara, who finished with 15 points, scampered over for a 66th-minute try created by Peter Stringer. Until then, Samoa had looked well placed to register an upset against opponents who started as 1/66 favourites.
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Heaslip, O'Gara. Cons: O'Gara 2. Pens: O'Gara 2. Samoa: Try: Tuilagi. Con: Williams. Pen: Williams.
Ireland: Fitzgerald; Bowe, O'Driscoll, Wallace, trimble; O'Gara, Stringer (Boss 77); Court, Cronin (Best 61), Hayes (Healy 64), O'Callaghan, Toner (Ryan 68), Leamy, O'Brien, Heaslip (Ferris 61).
Samoa: P Williams; Lemi, Pisi (G Williams 78), Mapusua, Tuilagi; Lavea (Poluleuligaga 69), Fotualii; Taulafo (Lemalu 77), Schwalger, Perenise, Levi (Tekori 71), Thompson, Treviranus (Aiono 71), Salavea, Stowers.