Republic can look forward to summer break


The Republic of Ireland players can look forward to their summer break after signing off with an impressive 2-0 victory over Georgia in last night's Euro 2004 qualifier at Lansdowne Road.

Goals from Tottenham duo Gary Doherty and Robbie Keane lifted Ireland into second place in the group and kept alive their dream of qualifying for next summer's finals in Portugal.

Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given summed up the feeling in the camp when he said: "We could not ask for any more than six points from two games and we have achieved that. This sets us up nicely and it is good to end the season with a good display."

Striker Keane, who grabbed the 16th international goal of his remarkable international career, agreed: "It was a good display and I think we deserved it. Since Brian came in we have got four good results in the games. The result in Albania may not have looked good at the time, but it has turned out to be so.

"It is in our hands now. We have got two tough games coming up against Russia and Switzerland, but these results will mean we will be confident."

Strike partner Doherty added: "Things have worked out well and we are really happy we have got the three points - it means it will be a good summer.

"We can now go away and forget about things for a while but be confident when we get back together next season. We played well. Everyone played well and I think that getting the run out against Albania did us all good because we were much sharper.

Kerr praised the fringe players such as Doherty after he made changes to his line-up last night, as Damien Duff was ruled out by injury and David Connolly and Mark Kinsella were rested. Apart from Doherty starting for Ireland, Lee Carsley and Colin Healy won places in midfield.

"The thing which pleased me was the fact that some of the players who have been fringe players, and who have not had much opportunity, were thrown into a big match and did their stuff," said Kerr.

The equation for Ireland now is straightforward. If they beat Russia at home in September and also win in Switzerland a month later, they will win the group and qualify automatically.