The Republic of Ireland drew first blood in the inaugural Nations Cup with a comfortable win over woeful Wales at the Aviva Stadium. It was meant to be the beginning of a new era for Gary Speed but his first game in charge ended in almost typical Welsh disappointment on a dreary Dublin night.
After a nondescript opening half, Darron Gibson opened the scoring in the 60th minute with his first international goal before Damien Duff doubled the home side's lead six minutes later from close range.
As the Irish took a firmer grip, substitute Keith Fahey drove a 25-yard free-kick past the Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to compound Speed's misery, although he will now have a much better understanding of the huge task ahead of him, and his captain James Collins admitted some old failings had reared their heads.
"We went in at half-time quite happy as they had not created that many chances," the Aston Villa defender told Sky Sports 1. "But we made individual errors which cost us, and that has been the case in the past and we need to cut those out if we are to move on."
Duff's goal was his first for his country in almost two years, and he was delighted to help Giovanni Trapattoni's side earn a confidence-boosting win before Euro 2012 qualifying resumes next month.
"I haven't scored for a couple of years and it's nice to get the points on the board in this new competition," Duff said. "The Welsh lads made us work for it, but we played well and thoroughly deserved the win.
"This is a chance of silverware and we are in with a good chance, but the most important thing is qualifying for the European Championships, so the big one is next month."
There was little in the way of Celtic passion during the first half and the deadlock was broken on the hour when Gibson picked up a pass from Whelan before rifling in an unstoppable shot from 20 yards. Duff made it two in the 66th minute after substitute Chris Gunter had been robbed by Jonathan Walters on the byline. The cutback was missed by Shane Long and landed at the feet of Duff and he buried it from 10 yards out. Fahey then drove a free-kick past the helpless Hennessey to seal the victory.
Ireland (4-4-2): Given; O'Shea, St Ledger, Dunne, Clark; Coleman, Whelan, Gibson, Duff; Walters, Doyle.
Wales (4-3-3): Hennessey; Eardley, J Collins, D Collins, Ricketts, Vaughan, Crofts, King; Church Earnshaw, Robson-Kanu.Reuse content