04.09.2004 at 15:00 Lansdowne Road
Republic of Ireland
3 - 0
Referee: Levan Paniashvili (Georgia)
World Cup Qualifier / PROG-match
Rep of Ireland 3 Cyprus 0
Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr's demands were convincingly met as his side made the perfect start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Clinton Morrison led the Group Four triumph at Lansdowne Road by ending his personal international goal drought at a staggering 777 minutes, while man of the match Andy Reid continued his emergence at this level with a strike of exquisite quality.
It was all topped off by Robbie Keane equalling Niall Quinn's 21-goal record tally for the Irish with a penalty early in the second half at the end of which the scoreline should have been more flattering.
But after 11 months of friendlies, incorporating nine matches during which Kerr has blooded the future for the Republic, Ireland did not disappoint on their long-awaited return to competitive action.
Understandably, given the calibre of the opposition ranked 88 places below them on the world scene, it required a degree of patience from Kerr's troops before they finally made what proved to be a deserved breakthrough just after the half hour.
Cyprus, who suffered two 4-0 thrashings to Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers ahead of the tournament in Japan and South Korea two years ago, had not come to defend, but due to the dominance of the Irish, they were forced into a rearguard retreat.
If this is the shape of things to come, then Switzerland can expect retribution from a determined Republic team whose hopes of appearing at the European Championship finals in Portugal were wrecked by home and away defeats to the Swiss during the qualifiers.
Kerr now heads to Basel on Wednesday, scene of a 2-0 defeat last October and a result which led to the long and winding friendly road.
However, as Kerr conceded, the one positive from the early exit was the opportunity to run the rule over up-and-coming young Irish players, with one in particular in Reid.
The Nottingham Forest winger yesterday admitted to disappointment and frustration at failing to land a big-money move to the Barclays Premiership before the closure of Tuesday's transfer window.
Such feelings were not in evidence as he produced an outstanding performance which will have been noted by watching Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese may have been on hand to run the rule over his own left-winger in Damien Duff as the player has barely figured in Mourinho's plans this campaign, but it was Reid who undoubtedly caught the eye.
Although predominantly a right winger, a position unconvincingly occupied by Alexei Smertin at Chelsea, Reid was seemingly given a licence to roam, proving not just a thorn in the side of the Cypriots, but all the way across the middle.
It was Reid who delivered the first incisive cross of the game in the ninth minute, a free-kick from the left which picked out Morrison rising above a static defence, only to plant his header wide of the right-hand post.
The duo combined again in the 22nd minute, only for the Birmingham striker to direct a Reid cross from the left into the grateful arms of Cypriot goalkeeper Nikos Panayiotou.
After Manchester United left-back John O'Shea had brought a clumsy, if effective save from Panayiotou shortly after with an angled, arrowing drive from the corner of the box, the Reid and Morrison partnership again almost delivered.
From a Reid corner, Morrison's downward header caught the sidenetting after taking a slight deflection off Elias Charalambous, but he was soon to gain his just reward - albeit with Duff the supplier.
After Kevin Kilbane had struck the legs of Panayiotou with a close-range volley, he was finally beaten in the 33rd minute when Morrison met a Duff cross with a glancing header into the bottom left-hand corner.
After 11 appearances without a goal stretching back a year, Morrison could finally celebrate his sixth in the green of Ireland, and the pressure was now off both him and his team-mates.
If there had been a roof on Lansdowne Road, that would have followed five minutes later when Reid scored his second successive goal for the Republic.
A stunning 25-yard left-foot curler into the top right-hand corner was the highlight of the game, one which may leave Spurs manager Jacques Santini ruing his decision not to sign Reid.
But there was no let-up in pressure at the start of the second half, and when Duff was tripped in the area by Georgios Theodotou, it gave Keane the chance to cement his place in Irish folklore.
After fluffing an 18-yard free-kick into the wall and miscuing a Duff cross in the first half, which brought groans rather than the expected cheers, there was no mistake from the spot as he stroked home a 56th-minute penalty.
After Shay Given pushed away a rising drive from Michael Konstantinou soon after in what was his only meaningful contribution to the game, it was opposite number Panayiotou who kept the marauding Irish at bay.
He prevented Ireland from equalling their prior four-goal romps over the Cypriots, in particular with Duff twice denied by the legs of the AEK Athens 'keeper, who also beat away a powerful drive from Alan Lee late on.
But there can be no complaints from Kerr, who can look to revenge over Switzerland.
Rep of Ireland Given, Carr (Finnan 70), O'Brien, Cunningham, O'Shea (Maybury 83), Kilbane, Kavanagh, Andy Reid, Keane, Morrison (Lee 81), Duff.
Subs Not Used: Kenny, Doherty, Breen, Quinn.
Goals: Morrison 33, Andy Reid 38, Keane 55 pen.
Cyprus Panagiotou, Theodotou, Kakoyiannis, Okkarides, Lambrou, Charalambous (Ilias 65), Charalambides (Michael 70), Satsias, Makrides, Okkas (Krassias 78), Michalis Konstantinou.
Subs Not Used: Nicolas Georgiou, Iacovou, Augousti, Yiasemi.
Booked: Lambrou, Charalambides, Michalis Konstantinou.