Denise O'Sullivan's brilliance keeps Ireland heading in the right direction

Denise O'Sullivan's brilliance keeps Ireland heading in the right direction
Denise O'Sullivan of Republic of Ireland in action against Eleni Kakambouki of Greece. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

IRELAND are heading in the right direction for European qualification after a deserved victory over Greece in Tallaght.

Denise O'Sullivan was immense in midfield, while Clare Shine was a second-half sub, as the hosts prevailed 1-0 in a crunch clash thanks to a Diane Caldwell goal from a setpiece. 

A third Leesider, Brighton's Megan Connolly, was set to feature until injury ruled her out in the build-up.

The result leaves Ireland in a strong position in their UEFA Women's 2021 European Championships qualifying group. Germany are certainties to secure automatic qualification, with the Irish now in control of second position.

Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The best three runners-up will go the Euros, with the rest entering the play-offs.

Next up for Ireland is a trip to Montenegro next Wednesday afternoon.

Vera Pauw's charges were caught by a late equaliser in Athens but held firm on home turf and another victory will give Ireland a bit of breathing space in a group that also features Ukraine.

Denise O'Sullivan proved once more on Thursday night that she is one of the best midfielders in the world, as the northsider offered her trademark combination of athleticism, shrewd passing and silken touches.

Diane Caldwell of Republic of Ireland, 7, celebrates with team-mate Denise O'Sullivan after scoring her side's goal. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Diane Caldwell of Republic of Ireland, 7, celebrates with team-mate Denise O'Sullivan after scoring her side's goal. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

O'Sullivan has been a standout for North Carolina Courage in the US league in recent campaigns and also had spells in Australia. At this juncture, she's the fulcrum of the Ireland team.

Douglas' Clare Shine, on song last season with Glasgow, offered an outlet in the last quarter in what was her sixth senior appearance. 

She linked with the forwards and will be a key player from here on.

Cork City's Eabha O'Mahony, a student in Ballincollig Community School, has also featured at senior level and while still underage, she could be part of Pauw's plans come 2021.

Clare Shine. Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy
Clare Shine. Picture: INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

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