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'Screaming' at Cork counterpart to take free-kick, going home happy and getting to the next level

Denise O’Sullivan was named Player of the Match in Ireland’s monumental win over Finland.

Celebrating Megan Connolly's opener.
Celebrating Megan Connolly's opener.
Image: Kalle Parkkinen/INPHO

FROM DOUBTS OVER her fitness to another marvellous performance from Ireland’s midfield maestro, Denise O’Sullivan scored the winner and was named Player of the Match on a night to remember in Helsinki.

There was concern the Cork woman might not even make the plane, after emerging as an injury doubt in the dying minutes of Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Sweden at Tallaght Stadium.

O’Sullivan left the pitch cradling her arm in her jersey, and was brought to hospital for a scan which returned all clear.

A collective sigh of relief was breathed when the FAI confirmed the news on Friday; the North Carolina Courage star ever-influential and always a central pillar to this Ireland team.

O’Sullivan was simply outstanding in tonight’s 2-1 win over Finland, epitomising the Girls In Green’s fight around the middle alongside Jamie Finn and Megan Connolly.

Her work-rate, tenacity and doggedness were through the roof, as always, with her GPS stats undoubtedly making for an interesting read. She was at the heart of the Irish attacks, causing serious problems alongside captain Katie McCabe early on, while providing creativity and craft despite being under immense physical pressure herself.

And it was her 56th-minute goal — her 13th for her country — which ultimately won the game; the 27-year-old bundling home a close-range header in the second half to add to Megan Connolly’s stunning opener and cancel out Adelina Engman’s leveller.

“Absolutely delighted to get three points there tonight,” O’Sullivan told RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue after the game.

“It wasn’t a pretty performance but we got the three points and we’ll go home happy.”

“Some good goals,” she agreed. “Megan Connolly’s free-kick, I was screaming at her to take that free-kick, it was for her. I’m absolutely delighted for her.

“We stayed composed, at times I think we could have done better with the ball but we get through these games. We’re gonna have a few of those games to get to the next level, and we’ll take the three points tonight.”

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O’Sullivan, who was under fierce scrutiny from Finland and escaped injury again tonight despite some scares, also reflected on the arm setback from last week.

“I got kicked when I was on the floor into the elbow. I couldn’t move it so I didn’t know if there was something serious wrong or not, it was just important to get that scan but I was ready to go again in a few days and happy to help the team tonight.”

BTL 5

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Emma Duffy

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