Shane Duffy admitted the Republic of Ireland players expected the fans to toss tennis balls on the pitch, and said they feared it too.

Balls rained on to the field in the 33rd minute in protest at the FAI's former CEO John Delaney, triggering a bizarre 60 seconds which climaxed with Conor Hourihane firing home the winning goal against Georgia.

Centre-half Duffy said the supporters have a right to air their grievances but admitted it was a distraction the players could have done without.

"I think we all expected it to happen," said the Derryman.

"We were hoping it wouldn't happen but we're professionals, we dealt with it. The best response was to put the ball in the net and we did. 

"We all read social media and newspapers. It happened. The fans have their opinions and rightly so. All we have to do is take care of it on the pitch and hopefully that will distract them from whatever is going on. That's our job, to go out there and get three points."

The victory made it two Group D wins from two as Mick McCarthy men followed up an unconvincing win against Gibraltar with a far more impressive showing in Dublin.

It sets them up nicely for June's trip to Denmark and the chance to gain revenge for the horror show against the Danes in 2017's World Cup play-off second leg at the Aviva Stadium.

The McCarthy effect was evident - with Duffy revealing the manager had asked for more bite.

"That was the aim, to get two wins," he added. "And that's what we done. In the first half we were very good and could have had a couple of more goals.

"(McCarthy) wanted the Irish fighting spirit back. We stuck in there and we ground it out but I think we were the better team.

"We took care of them. Nobody really remembers the performance once you get the win. It's a good start. We're all looking forward to coming back again. It's exciting times."