MICHAEL COLLINS’ first-half double paved the way to the Republic of Ireland Under 21s’ 3-1 win over hosts Malaysia in the first match of the Intercontinental Cup.

And while Collins celebrated his third cap with goals in the 22nd and 26th minutes, there was an Under 21 debut for his Town teammate James Berrett.

The pair played the full 90 minutes in midfield for Don Givens’ side, who went three up through Wolves’ Steven Ward before Malaysia pulled one back in stoppage time.

Collins, who chalked up four goals for Town this season, got his first with a glancing header from a right-wing delivery by Blackburn’s Keith Treacy.

His second was a low shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Collins came close to a third with another fizzing shot just before the break.

Another goal finally arrived in the 56th minute, when Ward, the Irish skipper, nodded in a cross by Ipswich’s Billy Clarke.

Malaysia responded as the humid conditions caught up with the Republic.

“The result was a great start for us in the tournament,” said Givens.

“Malaysia were a good technical side and they caused us a few problems.

“We had a young, inexperienced team out on the pitch and they performed well to get the three points.

“The only part that disappointed me was some of our defending in the second half.

“The hot weather was always going to be a problem for us but I felt we dealt well with it, although all of the lads were very tired after the game.”

The Republic now take on Nigeria on Saturday before facing Iraq on Monday.