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'I'd love to see her stay, as a player myself' - backing for Ireland boss Pauw with future in the air

Denise O’Sullivan on hopes for the Dutch manager’s future as well as her own, and facing Germany next week.

Ireland manager Vera Pauw at training earlier this week.
Ireland manager Vera Pauw at training earlier this week.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND’S MIDFIELD MAESTRO Denise O’Sullivan is backing manager Vera Pauw to stay on regardless of what happens in their final Euro 2022 qualifier next week.

The Girls In Green welcome all-conquering Germany to Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday [KO 5pm, live on RTÉ] with their qualification hopes slim.

It’s likely they will need a monumental upset as Ireland aim to qualify for a major tournament for the first time. Unless Montenegro force an unlikely slip-up from Ukraine, Ireland will require a victory against Germany to advance to the play-offs.

And Dutch boss Pauw has insisted that she won’t discuss her future until after her side’s Euros bid comes to an end.

In August, the FAI announced that she will remain in charge if qualification for the finals tournament in July 2022 is achieved.

But with that looking unlikely right now, O’Sullivan says she’s keen for Pauw to remain at the helm — and would “100%” like to see her contract extended.

“We’ve done very well since Vera came in,” the Cork star told the media this week. “She’s fantastic, straightforward and honest with us. That’s the type of manager I like.

“We’ve all greatly adapted to her and hopefully we’ll have her for another few years. We’ll see how it goes. We’ve pushed on since she came in. Look, I don’t know but I’d love to see her stay, as a player myself.

“Our game has got better, even the attacking. You could see that in the Ukraine game with how many attacks and opportunities we had. You mightn’t have seen that a couple of years ago. The next step, to be honest, is scoring goals.”

denise-osullivan O'Sullivan facing Greece earlier this year. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Sullivan, who’s currently playing her football at Brighton & Hove Albion after a temporary move from US kingpins North Carolina Courage, added that she’s a fan of Pauw’s logical approach on and off the pitch.

Especially given the huge task that lies ahead against the world’s second-ranked nation and eight-time European champions, who boast a 100% record in this campaign, scoring 37 goals and conceding zero.

“She’s the same as us. We have to be realistic. Germany are one of the best teams in the world, if not the best in the world. We saw that when we played them a few months ago. Vera is realistic in her approach and the task we have ahead.”

That said, O’Sullivan continues to look for inspiration, and says she firmly believes in miracles as Ireland look to produce the spectacular.

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She was part of an U17 team that beat them 1-0 in 2010 — Germany’s first defeat at that level, and something she hadn’t thought about until she was reminded of it. But “you also need a bit of luck,” O’Sullivan says with a nod to the returning Megan Campbell’s outrageous free-kick that day.

After that “huge result,” they played out two close games at senior level in 2014 — the home qualifier being stolen by Germany at the death.

“I still think Germany were a top-class team back then,” she recalls. “They were unbelievable and we almost got a bit of luck that day. It just didn’t go our way.

“We’ve improved massively as a team but so too have Germany. They’re top class but we’ll have a game-plan. We’ll do our best but we’re all excited.”

And on her club future, the 26-year-old has another year on her contract at Courage, where she’ll return next year after a stint in England.

While content with her US base at the minute, O’Sullivan concedes that a move closer to home could make life easier in down the line.

“Playing in Europe is always in the back of my mind. The big thing is being close to my family. That’s a huge factor for me.

“I’ve improved massively since going to Courage. The most important thing for me is the training environment. That’s really top class so I do see myself at Courage next year and the future.

“But England is in the back of my head too. We’ll just see after next year’s contract how it goes.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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