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'It's a proud moment to get a hat-trick for my country. To give that football to my nephew was really special'

Tuesday night’s record-breaking win was one to remember for hat-trick hero Denise O’Sullivan.

Denise O'Sullivan celebrates her hat-trick after Tuesday's 11-0 record win over Georgia.
Denise O'Sullivan celebrates her hat-trick after Tuesday's 11-0 record win over Georgia.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

TUESDAY NIGHT WAS one to remember for Ireland’s perfect 10, Denise O’Sullivan.

The Cork superstar finished up with the match ball after a record-breaking 11-0 win over Georgia. Her stunning hat-trick at Tallaght Stadium saw her become Ireland’s second-highest goalscorer behind Olivia O’Toole, with 14 in 89 caps.

“It’s obviously a proud moment to get a hat-trick for my country, it’s something I’ve never done,” a delighted O’Sullivan smiled afterwards. “It’s not about that, it’s about the team performance tonight.

“How every player played and the professional approach to the game was fantastic. There were lot of different scorers on the sheet as well. All round team performance was the most important thing, so we can kick on from here.”

The ruthless side Ireland showed was encouraging, the North Carolina Courage player agreed, as they bounced back from last week’s Slovakia slip-up.

“I guess we were very disappointed with the performance and the result the other night and I think that shows how far this team has come.

“It’s absolutely amazing for the team, it gives us all confidence. But it’s early days yet, we’ve still got a long way to go in the campaign so we’ll keep our feet firmly on the ground. It’s obviously a high to the end of the year, but going into next year we have really tough games. We’ll enjoy the win tonight and then we’ll refocus and get ready for the games ahead.”

Looking back on the midfield maestro’s hat-trick, it came in a scintillating 14-minute salvo either side of the break. Her first was on the stroke of half time, firing home after excellent play from Ruesha Littlejohn down the left.

Then, came an explosive sharp shot from the edge of the box in the 58th minute, before a rare header rounded off O’Sullivan’s goal-scoring efforts four minutes later.

Aside from the goals, she was simply excellent throughout in a typically Trojan-like performance. Her creativity, skill and strength shone through as she thrived further up the field, linking up with captain Katie McCabe to devastating effect.

“Obviously I play deeper with the club, but there’s different situations with club and country. Just to play the 10 with this team is great, I absolutely love it. Just trying to be creative for the team and do what I can.

“The gameplan was for me to be on the left. To be out there is fantastic with Katie. I think we read each other very well. She knows what I want and I know what she wants. I’ve played with Katie now for a long time, to see her growing into the player she has become is amazing. Just to have the two of us there linking up together is very important.”

After a difficult season Stateside with her North Carolina club in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, O’Sullivan now has the chance to head home to family in Knocknaheeny and enjoy the off-season before getting “straight back into it” in January.

Her nearest and dearest always make their presence felt at home games, and Tuesday night was no different.

“I had to get about 25 tickets for them, they all came up,” she beamed. “I was delighted to see them there, obviously on this night when I got my hat-trick. Just to give that football to my nephew and stuff, that was really special.

“They’re always my number one supporters, they come up all the time so I’m very happy they were there to witness that tonight.”

denise-osullivan-is-lifted-high-in-celebration-by-team-mates-after-scoring-her-third-goal-on-the-night O'Sullivan and her Ireland team-mates. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

And there was more joy for the Cork connection when Saoirse Noonan grabbed her first international senior goal. “Absolutely delighted. Just to see her reaction when she scored made me very proud. She’s a great girl, works very hard.

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“We grew up playing in Cork. Obviously the age difference, we didn’t really get to play with each other, but it’s absolutely fantastic to see her here now. I’m here to help her along as well, get her confidence. She’s doing great so far, so we’ve just got to keep working hard.”

That’s something O’Sullivan stressed over and over, always looking to the future rather than basking in the glory of the one-sided result over the group minnows.

It’s “so important” to build on it, she insisted; Ireland currently sitting second in Group A ahead of a massive 2022.

The race for that coveted play-off spot will kick off again in April, with the Girls In Green in a dogfight with Finland and Slovakia as their bid to reach a first-ever major tournament restarts.

“Tonight gives us confidence and it’s really important that we take that into next year, and start off well,” the 27-year-old concluded. “We’re only a few games in so there’s a long, long way to go. We still have Finland to play, Sweden; fantastic teams.

“I know we beat Finland but we won’t take them for granted, they were a great team and it was a very tough win away from home.”

BTL 5

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Emma Duffy

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