Republic of Ireland 3 Cyprus 0
Michael Doyle scored twice on his Republic of Ireland Under-21 debut as Don Givens' new-look side sparked into life after a sluggish first half to earn their fourth victory of the European Championship qualifying group to cement third place in the Group Two table.
Doyle, the Celtic midfielder on loan with Danish side Aarhus, struck during a five-minute spell early in the second period at rain-drenched Longford, while another debutant, Nottingham Forest's Andy Reid, added a third four minutes later. Reid and Shaun Byrne went agonizingly close to imposing further punishment on a defence that had stood up bravely to steady, calculated pressure before the interval.
With five new caps in the starting line-up and boss Givens looking ahead to the next qualifying campaign, Ireland could not turn their majority of possession into tangible reward in the first-half.
Reid, a sharp, gifted centre-forward, went closest to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute, curling his shot just wide after a sublime piece of control which took him past a desperate challenge.
And Arsenal reserve Graham Barrett was also twice narrowly off target after clever combination moves. Cyprus rarely threatened but their trio of central defenders held firm and goalkeeper Antonis Gallidi was barely tested in the first-half.
Just seconds after the break, though, Gallidi made a remarkable save with his foot, blocking a close-range shot by Thomas Butler who had pounced onto a mis-directed drive by Shaun Byrne.
Soon afterwards Byrne's thundering 30-yard effort finished inches too high and finally the pressure told in the 55th minute when Doyle toe-poked home after Cyprus failed to clear a John Thompson free-kick.
And within five minutes Doyle had doubled his tally with a cracking angled shot from the left which flew low past Gallidi and in off the base of the far post.
The spree continued with Reid adding a third goal four minutes later after capitalising on a mistake in the now shell-shocked Cypriot rearguard and running on to glide his shot beyond the keeper.
It would have been four within a minute but for West Ham's Byrne having a powerful drive desperately blocked.
And, with the Irish in full stride, the rest was almost a procession towards the Cypriot goal, although new Ireland skipper John O'Shea impressed with his cool marshalling of the home defence on the rare occasions that it did come under threat.
REP OF IRELAND : Roche, Thompson (Shelley 83), Goodwin, O'Shea, Foy, Butler, Byrne, Miller, Doyle (Keane 77), Andy Reid, Barrett (Burgess 65).
CYPRUS : Gallidi, Ilia (Konstandinu 52), Karalambous, Thagofilu, Nikolaou, Kakogannis, Pittas (Antoneeu 60), Aresti, Nicolaou (Kavazis 70), Karalambidis, Constantinu.
Manager Don Givens saluted a stunning two-goal debut by Michael Doyle in the Republic of Ireland Under-21s' win over Cyprus. The Celtic midfielder - currently on loan to Danish team Aarhus - struck twice early in the second half of a 3-0 win.
Givens said: "It was a debut to remember. You couldn't ask for more and he deserved it for a very impressive display."
Ireland started with five new caps in the line-up and three more took the field as substitutes later - making a total of nine players in the squad who won the World Under-16 Championship four years ago.
Givens said: "I think that is a worthy performance considering we had so many first timers in the team.
"But we've got to do that now as we look ahead to the next qualifying campaign.
"We took time to settle in the first half but after the interval our passing and team-work was much crisper and I am delighted with not only the result but the way we achieved it.
"It's a very promising sign for the future and I challenged the players before the kick-off to go on and make a name for themselves.
"I told them they should not be content to just live on the glory of being Under-16 champions for the rest of their careers and hopefully they are going to take me up on that."
Doyle struck at the double during a five-minute spell early in the second period at rain-drenched Longford, while another debutant, Nottingham Forest striker Andy Reid, added a third four minutes later.
Cyprus, who restricted Ireland to just a 1-0 victory in Larnaca in March but who had also posted three wins in a section where Portugal have already stamped their ticket for next summer's finals, were close to being overwhelmed.
New Ireland skipper John O'Shea impressed with his cool marshalling of the home defence on the rare occasions it did come under threat.