Brian Kerr experienced both highs and lows during his short spell as Republic of Ireland manager. Strong performances against the likes of France and Switzerland earned rave reviews and raised expectations in the post-Mick McCarthy era. But Kerr’s failure to reach Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup ultimately earned him the sack. He exited the international scene amidst a string of criticism.

That was in 2005. Five years later – after stints in the media and at St. Patrick’s Athletic – Kerr is back in the managerial hotseat as the Faroe Islands national team boss. He has not lost his passion for the game and is currently overseeing real progress.

When he landed the Faroe Islands job back in April 2009, Kerr admitted he loved the challenge that comes with being an underdog. He also acknowledged that beating more established nations would be no small task.

Hogni i Storustovu, the Faroes Football Federation president, was brimming with optimism after unveiling the new manager. He claimed: "When we began the search for a new coach we decided that we required a highly qualified and experienced coach to help drive football in the Faroe Islands forward and in Brian Kerr I believe that we now have such a man. Brian’s record shows that he can be successful and achieve results as well as building a foundation for the future."

While Kerr cannot call upon the likes of Roy Keane, Robbie Keane, Shay Given and John O’Shea, he is breathing life into a team that has carried around the whipping boys tag for as long as most football fans can remember. It had become customary to question not whether the Faroe Islands would win or lose but how many goals they would lose by. With a 9-0 defeat to Iceland and a string of seven-goal losses in the history books, it would be fair to say that Kerr has had limited resources to work with.

A 1-1 draw with Austria prior to Kerr’s appointment showed signs of encouragement and he worked hard to push his players to the next level. It did not take long for the progress to become evident. With his players growing in confidence, Kerr masterminded a shock 2-1 victory over Lithuania in September 2009 that sparked huge celebrations.

The Faroe Islands now find themselves in a tricky Euro 2012 qualifying group, which boasts the likes of Italy, Serbia and Slovenia, but expectations are gradually rising. They looked set for a huge victory over Estonia in their opening group game, leading 1-0 heading into injury time. But three disastrous minutes later, the Estonians had stolen all three points with two late goals. Heart-breaking though it was for Kerr’s men, there were plenty of positives to take from the performance. The underdogs had come agonisingly close to overturning the odds.

Three straight defeats followed – admittedly against the strongest three sides in the group –, but the scorelines and performances never threatened the embarrassments of previous years. Italy netted five, but two came in the final ten minutes as the Faroes tired.

Despite these disappointments, Kerr has kept morale high and the Faroe Islands got the reward that their effort has deserved during the recent round of international fixtures as they held Northern Ireland to a 1-1 draw at home, despite the visitors dominating large chunks of the contest. Christian Holst grabbed the headlines by putting the Faroes ahead, but Kyle Lafferty levelled in the final 15 minutes.

Speaking post-match, Kerr was brimming with pride at the spirit and talent shown by his players. He said: “It was a brave performance. I think we at least deserved a point. It was a very, very good day. Being from Ireland and having so many relations in Ireland – my parents are from Belfast, it was a good day. Many people in Ireland will have watched the game."

There is further good news for Kerr as his team are on home soil for their next couple of qualifiers. No one is suggesting that the Faroe Islands can realistically challenge in their group, but the future appears bright given the Irishman’s impact in his first 18 months with the team.

While the talent pool remains extremely small, Kerr is ensuring that the Faroe Islands are taken more seriously on the international scene.