Belfast Telegraph

Brian Kerr wants something beautiful from Faroe Islands

By Steven Beacom

His face beaming with pride, Brian Kerr asked “Did you know that the Faroe Islands was voted the best holiday destination four years ago by National Geographic magazine?”

Must be those beautiful landscapes and all the puffins. There's also 70,000 sheep!

Whatever, Kerr enjoys his time in the tiny country, located in the heart of the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic Ocean, with a population of less than 50,000 and 18 islands covering 550 miles.

“It's like the coastal areas of Northern Ireland. If you want to enjoy nature it's a good place to come,” adds the former Republic of Ireland manager, with genuine affection.

“There's not much to do between November and March though. You just try and stay out of the wind and rain.”

Kerr is not at a tourist convention. He's in Belfast, speaking at his press conference, ahead of tonight's European Championship qualifier against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, where as Faroes Islands boss he hopes to spring a shock, just as he did when the sides met earlier in the campaign.

Then the result in Toftir was 1-1. Kerr would settle for the same this time.

The Windsor match is a bit like a homecoming for the 58-year-old Dubliner, who as a kid played football with future world champion athlete Eamonn Coghlan.

Kerr's parents were both from Belfast and dad Frank, a renowned amateur boxer, laced footballs for a living, including the one when Joe Bambrick famously scored SIX goals in a 7-0 win for Northern Ireland over Wales at Windsor in 1930.

Maybe that's why Kerr hopes Northern Ireland qualify for the Euro finals and relates his sympathy to the Irish FA about more and more players from here opting to play for the Republic.

That won't stop him and his one-time team of fishermen turned football men, some with overseas clubs, trying to beat Nigel Worthington's side tonight.

“I'd like us to perform well but the reality is away from home in our last three group games, we have lost them all and conceded 12 goals. We won't come to shut up shop though, we'll have a go,” says the former St Pat's Athletic boss, who enjoyed great success in charge of various Republic youth teams before taking over the senior side in 2003. He departed in 2005 and four years later came the Faroes, where he is respected by players who desperately want him to extend his stay.

In June they beat Estonia 2-0 and will go above Northern Ireland in the group with an unlikely away win.

Dividing his time between Ireland and the Faroes, Kerr reveals that he watched about 40 games in the latter's “competitive but not hostile” domestic league between March and October.

“It's easy to get around if you have a good boat,” he laughs.

He'll be on the road to Dublin tonight.

“This match means I can be home in two hours rather than a day which is how long it takes to get back to Ireland from the Faroes,” he says.

“It also means some of my friends and family can be at the game.

“It's expensive and awkward to get to the Faroe Islands,” he adds.

Northern Ireland fans will hope the journey south won't be a victorious one.

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