O’Sullivan enjoys connection with McCabe in record win

Ireland’s key pair showed how well they know each other’s game during Georgia rout

Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe were at their devastating best during Tuesday’s record win over Georgia. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Denise O’Sullivan and Katie McCabe were at their devastating best during Tuesday’s record win over Georgia. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Broken records were all the talk following Ireland’s 11-0 victory over Georgia on Tuesday night. The country’s previous highest margin of victory was 9-0, so attention understandably turned to the new double-figure benchmark.

One change to the record book that should also catch the eye is the new occupant of second place on Ireland’s list of all-time goal scorers.

With her hat-trick against a hapless Georgia, Denise O’Sullivan notched her 12th, 13th and 14th international goals to become the country’s second most prolific player in front of goal. It could have been more though, had Teona Sukhashvili not pulled off a stunning second-half save to divert a strike that was destined for the top corner.

As O’Sullivan put it, allowing herself a brief moment of self-praise: “It was a great shot.”

Records are important and should be celebrated when set. That job falls to the likes of us in the press though, since O’Sullivan insists that such accolades, be they individual or for the team, do not feature in talk among the squad.

“No talk at all. We were focused before the game, there was no talk about breaking records or how many goals we were going to get, it was just to go out and do our own job individually and I think that’s what we done tonight.

“After the performance the other night [in the draw against Slovakia] we were a bit disappointed in ourselves. To come out there in that professional manner, score that many goals and a lot of different scorers as well, a lot of big performances as well from the girls, we’re very happy with that.

“We played really well in Finland and expected to play really well going into that Slovakia game. We had confidence before it but on the night we didn’t perform, it wasn’t our best and I think we looked at that afterwards and we knew individually none of us performed on the night.

“So we’ll take this win tonight, it gives us confidence definitely and it’s a high to the end of the year.

“I think we’re in a good position going into the new year but we have a long way to go. We still have Finland to play and they’re a very good team. Still Sweden to go so we’ll see. We’re in a good position right now.”

O’Sullivan won the battle for the match ball with her skipper Katie McCabe, who fell just short of a hat-trick of her own, settling for a brace. McCabe was given the player of the match gong, though that could easily have gone to either of the pair given how devastating their link-up play on the left hand side was.

They were responsible for much of the attacking threat on the night, none the more so than when McCabe’s pinpoint cross allowed O’Sullivan to head home her third and Ireland’s sixth.

The two have been playing together for so long now. Aside from that O’Sullivan header, they complemented each other nicely on Tuesday with O’Sullivan regularly opening up pockets of space for her captain to brutalise Georgia with countless left-footed deliveries into the box.

“I’ve been playing with Katie now for ten years” says O’Sullivan. “She has come on heaps and bounds, I’m very proud of her.

“Playing on that left side with her, I think we know each other really well on the ball and what we’re good at so I think we link up really well.”

“A few of us were [mentors] to Katie. But the way she has matured into being a fantastic captain is amazing.

“She’s doing fantastic at Arsenal, as you can see, we definitely helped her but we’ve all helped each other on this team, that’s what it’s all about and we all want each other to be successful.

“We’ll just keep going.”

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