Last Updated: 24/05/11 9:37pm
Ward, Keane, Cathcart's own goal, a Keane penalty and Cox complete a perfect evening for Republic of Ireland. Thompson's harsh red card when giving away the spot-kick just added to Northern Ireland's misery. Republic of Ireland will now await Sunday's meeting with Scotland, which could be the deciding game for the winner of the Carling Nations Cup. Stay with us for all the post-match reaction.
Eight shots on target for Republic so far this evening. N.Ireland have not managed a shot on target. On top of the scoreline, that tells the story of the match
After a group discussion, Hunt takes the 20-yard free-kick and his left-footed effort comes back off the far post when Blayney was beaten.
Hunt cuts inside Coates when sprinting down the right, but he loses control and N.Ireland can clear... for now.
Treacy attempts a back-heeled flick on the left wing, but he is left looking a little foolish as he fails to properly connect. There was no team-mate behind him anyway.
Ironic cheers from the Republic fans at every successful pass from their team now. It is keep-ball before Lawrence shoots into the hands of Blayney.
With seven minutes left to play, N.Ireland will be desperate to hear the final whistle. It is safe to say that Republic have gained revenge for their defeat in 1999.
After collecting Treacy's pass, Cox darts across the edge of the box from right to left, cuts into the 18-yard area and then shoots back across the face of goal with his left foot from 15 yards. Like Ward, he also marks his debut with a deserved goal.
Coates does well to break up an attack and then carry the ball forward before being fouled still inside his own half by Andrews
As is often the case, the substitutions are breaking the flow of the game as we near the end. Garrett comes on for Davis.
Brilliantly weighted and directed cross from the left by Ward, but Keogh somehow does not manage to get a touch and was offside anyway.
N.Ireland have the ball in the back of the net, but McGinn was half-a-yard offside in the build-up. Unfortunate because that was a nice move.
N.Ireland are still attempting to keep possession and pass the ball, but they do run out of options following Thompson's red card and eventually have to go long.
Republic are in no need of rushing, though, and they are happy to keep passing the ball in midfield.
This is now a training exercise for Republic as they attempt to breakdown their numerically inferior opponents. Lawrence is offside in the latest attack.
McShane clatters into McAuley when attempting to reach a knockdown from Lawrence on the edge of the N.Ireland box. McAuley is quickly to his feet and they shake hands. Good to see.
Given hits a long ball out to the right in the direction of Lawrence, but the latter is punished for pushing.
Good first touch by Keogh as he breaks forward after dropping into the centre cirle, but McAuley eventually clears.
Keane will not complete his hat-trick as he is replaced by Keogh. West Ham fans must wish Keane had demonstrated those predatory instincts.
I have received a tweet from Nathan Mccambley suggesting Nigel Worthington should be sacked for his defensive tactics. Seems a bit harsh. This is far from his strongest team.
Norwood manages to get a foot on the ball in midfield and gets N.Ireland passing. But an eventual long ball towards Feeney is largely in hope as he has three defenders to fight against.
Keane almost completes his hat-trick, but is denied by a brilliant save from Blayney. This really cannot get much worse for N.Ireland.
Republic's captain makes no mistake from the spot as, after a bit of a staggered run-up, he strokes the ball to his right and into the back of the net.
Thompson is sent off after a push in the back on Keane inside the penalty area just as he was about to pull the trigger after more poor defending from N.Ireland. It was a definite penalty, but the red card was very harsh.
Blayney launches a long kick down field, but Feeney is facing a tough task when up against four defenders and gives away a foul.
Andrews has played well for Republic this evening. I can't remember him giving the ball away. He has kept things simple in passing and also hit the post in the first half.
The introduction of Norwood means that N.Ireland has reverted to a five-man midfield. Looks like damage limitation tactics for Worthington.
WE'RE BACK: With a comfortable 3-0 lead in front of a disappointingly low attendance, Republic get the second half under way. But N.Ireland fans, do not give up hope. I was covering the Newcastle match at the weekend and stranger things have happened.
Debutant Ward, captain Keane, who capitalised on Hodson's dreadful back-pass, and Cathcart's own goal give Trapattoni's men a three-goal lead at the interval at the Aviva Stadium. Republic deserve to be in front and, after a 3-0 defeat to Scotland in their opening match, N.Ireland boss Worthington needs to come up with a master plan at half-time. The inexperience of the young N.Ireland team is more than evident.
This is in danger of becoming embarrassing for N.Ireland. Coleman might have been offside, but he gets to the byline on the right and crosses. Blayney gets a hand to the cross, but only pushes it straight into Cathcart, who was relegated with Blackpool at the weekend, and the ball deflects into the back of the net.
Keep ball from Republic on the edge of the N.Ireland box, before Ward's cross from the left is just out of reach for Coleman at the back post.
Have to say, Republic deserve their two-goal lead as we approach half-time. After a slow start, they have been a constant threat against an inexperience N.Ireland.
Coleman almost makes it three, but Gorman is back and blocks just as the Republic winger attempts to pull the trigger inside the penalty area. It is a corner.
Shocking defending from Hodson, who attempted a back-pass to Blayney without looking for any danger. Keane capitalises on the ball, which did not have enough pace to reach Blayney and Republic's captain controls before darting to the right and chipping a finish over the diving Blayney.
N.Ireland remain on the attack and Thompson swings in a cross from the right, but an offside flag brings the move to a close.
Coleman clears and N.Ireland are forced to go back to the halfway line before a long pass finds Feeney in a debatable offside position.
Nice give-and-go passing between Foley and Kelly near the centre-circle. But the attack then breaks down.
Coleman is seeing a lot of the ball this evening. He seems to be the out-pass for Republic's defence.
Republic move up the pitch from the free-kick for Feeney's offside and Foley tries his luck from 18 yards. But his bouncing right-footed effort is always swerving away from the far post.
Coleman gets the ball caught beneath his feet when on the edge of the box and he loses the chance to shoot. The Everton man therefore attempts a pass out to the right, but only succeeds in putting it out for a goal-kick.
N.Ireland are taking a risk with this high defensive line. Keane may not be the quickest these days, but he still has the cunning to time his run and he is threatening.
Republic attack and Coleman sends an inviting cross into the box from the right. But Keane has darted his run to the near post and the ball goes to the back post.
Hodson sends a long throw into the Republic box, but that man Ward is there to clear and hoofs up field.
Republic deserved that goal. They had been threatening. Poor mistake from Blayney to fumble the cross when low down and diving. His handling let him down.
The corner went short to Treacy and, after a drop of the shoulder, he gets to the byline on the left to cross low. Blayney fumbles the cross and debutant Ward marks his special occasion in style by pouncing on the ball to fire it into the net first-time from inside the six-yard box.
Republic really look a threat now. Their passing is slick and proving problems to N.Ireland's high defensive line.
After a clever step-over run from Keane on the edge of the box, the Republic captain collects Cox's return pass. But his cross-shot is collected by Blayney, who collides with his own post when back-pedalling. He still manages to keep hold of the ball and prevent it from crossing the line.
Cox struggles to hold the ball up on the half-way line when with his back to goal and under pressure from three defenders. Understandable.
Republic have responded well to N.Ireland's bright start. Trapattoni's team are now threatening and their running of the channels is causing problems.
Keane breaks N.Ireland's offside trap to collect Delaney's pass, but his second touch is useless and he no longer has the pace to beat the onrushing Blayney to the ball.
After some good build-up by Cox, Andrews has the chance to set his sights from the edge of the box and curls a right-footer against the inside of the N.Ireland post. Unlucky, that would have been an excellent goal.
N.Ireland clear the set-piece, but Coleman's follow-up cross is met by McShane, who flicks a header just wide.
Not sure what Given was thinking. He had wandered off his goalline when Feeney broke forward and the latter's cross was across the face of an unguarded goal.
Carson is offside as N.Ireland attempt to break on the counter. He is annoyed with himself as he was on the touchline and looking across the Republic defensive line.
Republic are looking to get their passing going. Foley is dropping into his own half to try and dictate the pace of the match.
Given is in pain after being caught by McQuoid, who was attempting to charge down a back-pass. But the goalkeeper is back on his feet and is fit enough to take the free-kick.
Lots of fouls in these early stages. It is spoiling the rhythm a little bit. But N.Ireland are still on the front foot.
Coleman gives away a free-kick inside his own half. Clingan clips the ball into the Republic penalty area, but McAuley climbs on Delaney and fouls.
N.Ireland are immediately back on the attack and Given has to be quickly off his line to stop Feeney from breaking through on goal.
Sloppy from Kelly as he gives the ball away in midfield, but Republic have it back and Keane's through ball towards Foleyis only slightly over-hit.
Very early stages, but this is a positive start from N.Ireland, who seem intent on producing a better account of themselves.
The free-kick is only half cleared and Gorman hits an excellent follow-up effort from the edge of the box which whistles just over Given's crossbar.
As the Northern Ireland national anthem begins, to a few boos, Joe Shorten tweets: "Come on the REP OF IRELAND!!! let's hammer them, 3-0 Ireland, id say."
TE tweets @SkySportsPeteF: "The pink elephant in the room (or the one stopping NI fans getting in the Aviva) is the eligibility row. Must be addressed!"
As the teams emerge from the tunnel ahead of kick-off, Balint Kaman says: "It would be great to see Trapp's lads winning tonight!!!"
Ward is a surprise inclusion by manager Trapattoni, while Everton's Seamus Coleman is preferred to Portsmouth's Liam Lawrence. Northern Ireland line up as expected, with Gareth McAuley as captain.
It is a first start for Stephen Ward for Republic and likewise for Simon Cox. Ipswich's 17-year-old Josh Carson makes his first start for Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland will be looking for a response after their 3-0 defeat to Scotland in the first round of fixtures. But Republic are flying high at the top of the group alongside Scotland after beating Wales by the same scoreline.
Stuart Dallas is one to watch on the Northern Ireland bench. The 20-year-old Crusaders attacking midfielder has just been voted Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.
Northern Ireland team: Blayney, Thompson, Cathcart, McAuley, Hodson, Carson, Clingan, Davis, Gorman, Feeney, McQuoid. Subs: Tuffey, Winchester, Garrett, Boyce, Dallas, Coates, McGinn, Norwood, Owens.
Rep of Ireland team: Given, McShane, Ward, Kelly, Delaney, Coleman, Andrews, Foley, Treacy, Keane, Cox. Subs: Forde, Keogh, Lawrence, St. Ledger, Hunt, O'Dea, Randolph.
Both sides are set to feature new faces tonight after a number of injury withdrawals. Nigel Worthington's Northern Ireland have been particularly badly hit, while Republic boss Giovanni Trapattoni has been less than impressed at Anthony Stokes decision to make himself unavailable due to tiredness.
Should be an interesting and competitive match tonight between the two Irish rivals. They have not met since 1999, when Northern Ireland won 1-0.
You can contact me throughout the evening at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can drop me a tweet via Twitter @SkySportsPeteF. I will publish a selection of the best comments. Let me have your thoughts, rants or jokes ahead of kick-off.