Hunt hails 'great achievement'
Stephen Hunt hailed a great achievement after Ireland made it four quick wins with victory over Italy.
Last Updated: 08/06/11 4:19pm
Stephen Hunt hailed a 'great achievement' after Republic of Ireland made it four wins in 15 days with victory over Italy.
Giovanni Trapattoni's side saw off the former world champions 2-0 in a glamour friendly in Liege, Belgium, thanks to goals from Keith Andrews and Simon Cox in either half.
The victory followed recent clashes against Northern Ireland and Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup and Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
Trapattoni's side emerged from this exhausting schedule with four victories, four clean sheets and 10 goals scored, a return which handed them the Carling trophy, three precious points and an impressive scalp to go with them.
The serious business will resume in September when the Republic lock horns with Slovakia and Russia in quick succession with qualification for Poland and the Ukraine likely to be determined by the outcome of those fixtures, and the events of the past fortnight or so can only stand them in good stead.
Hunt said: "The last two weeks, four wins in a row and four clean sheets is a good achievement - it's not a good achievement, it's a great achievement.
"No matter who you are playing against, it's nice to keep clean sheets. It breeds confidence and we move on to the next one."
Tuesday night's win over Italy was all the more creditable as it was achieved without most of Trapattoni's bigger names, and with some of the main men initially selected having withdrawn with knocks, much to the Italian's frustration.
He made a point of saluting Hunt and central defender Darren O'Dea, who both started at the Maurice Dufrasne Stadium despite being major doubts with problems picked up against Macedonia in Skopje.
However, the Wolves midfielder was diplomatic when asked about the matter, although he warned the stay-aways that they will have a fight on their hands to force themselves back into contention.
He said: "Listen, the ones who didn't turn up, it has been made a great deal of, but they will be back fighting for places like we did last night, and the ones who have been here have done themselves no harm at all.
"It's up to the manager, but the ones who are here have done very well, make no mistake about it."
Hunt was one of the few men to play in all four games and he started the last three, a welcome end to a season severely interrupted by injury.
But his bravery in Belgium came at a cost.
He said: "My Achilles is screaming, I can tell you that now, I was in bits. But I will have a couple of weeks off now.
"To be honest, I'm gutted the season has finished. I would rather continue it because I haven't played that many games, so I am fresh as a daisy."