So, the Mick McCarthy reign seems to have a bright future as, with only Romania counting as serious opposition in Group Eight, a place in France must be within his side's reach.
McCarthy, in his first competitive home match as manager, restored Alan Kelly in goal in place of Shay Given. Macedonia were without Darko Pancev, whose goals helped Red Star Belgrade win the European Cup in 1991, plus his colleague from the Swiss club Sion, Ilija Najdoski, the captain of that Red Star side.
Cascarino, only playing because of an injury to Niall Quinn, and Gary Breen tested Macedonia's goalkeeper, Danco Celeski, even before he was beaten in the eighth minute. Ian Harte found Alan McLoughlin free in the inside-left channel, the Portsmouth veteran played a measured pass to his right, which found Jason McAteer bursting into space. The Liverpool man advanced to the edge of the area and emphatically beat Celeski with a fierce drive to register his first goal for his adopted country.
Strangely, given the frenetic nature of the first 10 minutes, the visiting goalkeeper was not troubled again until five minutes before half-time, when he had to claw away a Cascarino header from a Steve Staunton cross.
Celeski, however, was severely troubled in the 43rd minute by an aerial challenge from Breen, following a McLoughlin corner, and then by McAteer's shot on the follow-up, which he tipped over his bar.
The half-time break seemed to invigorate the home side, who doubled their advantage with a Route One goal in the first minute of the second period. Kelly's kick reached the Macedonian penalty area, where Zoran Jovanovski sliced his clearance. Cascarino accepted the gift with alacrity, tucking his shot just inside the post.
The green onslaught picked up pace as Celeski became the busiest man on the pitch, denying Keith O'Neill, Jeff Kenna and Staunton. The third home goal arrived in the 68th minute, though, Cascarino rising high to power home a header from a Kenna cross.
Andy Townsend, with a shot that came back off the post into the keeper's arms, nearly made it four as the match drew to a close in carnival mood.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (3-5-2): A Kelly (Sheffield United); Irwin (Manchester United), Breen (Birmingham City), Staunton (Aston Villa); Kenna (Blackburn Rovers), Townsend (Aston Villa), McAteer (Liverpool), McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Harte (Leeds United); Cascarino (Marseilles), O'Neill (Norwich City). Substitutes: Aldridge (Tranmere Rovers) for O'Neill, 81; Moore (Middlesbrough) for Harte, 85; O'Brien (Tranmere Rovers) for McLoughlin, 88. Substitutes not used: Given (Blackburn Rovers, gk); Babb (Liverpool), Cunningham (Wimbledon), D Kelly (Sunderland).
FYR MACEDONIA (1-2-5-2): Celeski (FK Ohrid); Nikoloski (Antwerp); Sedloski (Hadjuk Split), Jovanovski (Vardar Skopje); Milosavov (CSKA Sofia), Gosev (Sileks Kratovo), Milosevski (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Ciric (Aarau), Beganovic (Sloga Jugomagnat Skopje); T Micevski (Hansa Rostock), Hristov (Partizan Belgrade). Substitutes: Zaharievski (Sileks Kratovo) for Milosevski, 60; Sakiri (Vardar Skopje) for Beganovic, 73. Substitutes not used: Filevski (FK Skopje, gk), V Micevski (Sileks Kratovo), Naumoski (Makedonija).
Referee: K Fisker (Denmark).Reuse content