"I would love to see the Irish public come out and get right behind the players," said Gerry Smith, as he prepares to lead the home side at the UEFA Regions' Cup finals.
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Gerry Smith believes Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland squad will be envious of what his Eastern Region side get to experience as hosts at the UEFA Regions' Cup this summer.
Dubliner Smith has been in charge of the Irish team in previous final tournaments of the world's top amateur competition, but the 2015 finals in the Republic of Ireland in June and July will be something special.
"If you speak to any of our international managers, they would give anything to get to a finals tournament, so we are delighted to be here and be in a position to play in Ireland," Smith told UEFA.com. "The most important thing is that we are in the finals. If you had said to me last October before we went to Hungary for the [intermediary] qualifying round that we could qualify for the finals and also be the hosts, I would have bitten both your hands off."
Long-serving manager Smith is hoping his side's adventure will capture the imagination of the Irish public. "I hope people come out and support the team," he said. "It's the first time the tournament is in Ireland so I would love to see the Irish public come out and get right behind the players.
"These are the players from the grassroots – the guys who do it for nothing but the love of the game. They give up their time, and for them it's a fantastic opportunity. In a lot of cases, the players' families would not get to see them play as we have so many away matches, so that's a positive for me."
Smith is sure his charges have the skills to captivate local fans too. "I would hate to single out people, but we have players who will impress," he said. "Greg Moorhouse is only 20 but he is one who can do well for us. He's a centre-forward who can score goals and people will be looking out for him.
"We have players in the squad who could have played League of Ireland level; Jimmy Carr and Darren Dunne are players like that. But everyone who takes part has been fantastic and for the squad for the finals I will lean heavily on the players who helped us qualify."