Martin O’Neill made the perfect start to his new career as Ireland manager with a 3-0 win over Latvia at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night.
Robbie Keane made it 62 goals in an Ireland shirt with a first-half opener before a stunning strike from Aiden McGeady and a third from substitute Shane Long wrapped up an easy home win.
The victory was a stunning endorsement for new boss O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane as Ireland began life in the post Giovanni Trapattoni era.
A happy O’Neill told Irish state broadcaster RTE: “I am absolutely delighted, delighted with the performance and delighted with the result, obviously.
“I accept the fact that there will be sterner tests ahead, of course, and one on Tuesday night against Poland, but it was nice to win, it was nice to play well, it was nice to get a few goals and I thought some of our play was terrific.
“I was concerned about the game beforehand, of course, but just getting that first goal was very important for us.
“Overall, I was delighted with the team, delighted with their attitude and delighted with the crowd’s response.”
There was a bonus for O’Neill on the night when a 3-1 win for Greece over Romania in the first leg of their World Cup play-off ensures Ireland will be second seeds for the European 2016 qualifiers.
O’Neill added: “If you tell me that that’s good news for us, I’ll accept it.
“I’m obviously happy with that if that’s the case, but I think there will be a lot of teams in the third seeds who will be every bit as strong as we will be. But every bit of good news is fine.”
Old boys James McClean, man of the match, and Aiden McGeady produced the goods for their former club boss.
O’Neill said: “McClean’s performance was excellent. He was given man of the match and I don’t think anybody would have disagreed with that.
“He was rejuvenated, played with a bit of confidence, but I think he knows I have a bit of confidence in him.
“Of course, there will be once or twice when he will not play the right ball, but his desire to go and attack them tonight was very evident. I thought he deserved that.
“It was a great to win, but there’s a big task ahead of us on Tuesday night.”
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