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The Cork midfielder is fully fit for the opening World Cup match on Thursday.
On the latest episode of House of Football, the Republic of Ireland’s record goal scorer Olivia O’Toole compared Denise O’Sullivan to Roy Keane.
Ireland have had a difficult build-up to their first appearance at the Women’s World Cup, where they will face co-hosts Australia on Thursday, (11 am Irish time).
In a behind-closed-doors friendly against Colombia last week, the match was ended after 20 minutes due to a heavy tackle on midfield general O’Sullivan. The midfielder was treated in hospital with a shin injury.
Luckily for O’Sullivan and fans of the national team, the 29-year-old was declared fully fit after the results of a scan gave her the all-clear. Vera Pauw’s team have all been given a clean bill of health going into the tournament opener.
The importance of O’Sullivan in the centre of Ireland’s midfield is lost on anybody, least of all Irish legend and all-time top goalscorer O’Toole.
Olivia compared the North Carolina Courage player to her fellow Cork native in terms of importance to their respective teams.
The importance of Denise O’Sullivan for Ireland
“Denise is the equivalent of Roy Keane for us,” said the former international.
“I know when Denise gets hit, it has to be hard because she does not go down.
“So when I see her, she was brought to the hospital- she was actually carted off in an ambulance – when I see in the video and I see in the stills, it’s a terrible tackle, an awful tackle.
“People are talking about the tackle going in on a foot, they’re not talking about the elbow going in after.”
The high-profile incident became an unwanted distraction in the week leading up to the World Cup, with Colombia players and officials hitting out at the Irish team following the decision to call off the game following the incident.
After the game, their star player and centre-back Daniela Caracas reportedly said “Let them eat shit” regarding the Ireland team. Footage shared on social media also revealed her saying the Ireland team were “little girls”.
“I’ve looked at Twitter where people have an opinion, and I think they should just keep to yourself,” said O’Toole on SportsJOE’s House of Football.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about – This is a girl that does not go down.
“She is strength and strength and strength. She’s the core of the Irish ladies’ team in the middle.”
Asked whether the incident could galvanise the squad and bring them closer together, the Dubliner pointed to captain Katie McCabe as the perfect example of that mentality.
“Well, the first person that came into my head, who has that mentality, who looks after our players, is Katie McCabe, and I know for a fact Katie would have been standing over Denise and making sure she was OK and making sure nobody was hassling her because obviously, the game got a bit heated. So and as Vera said there, she was very proud of our players for holding themselves.
“And I know she’s talking about Katie because Katie she will stand up to anybody for her team.”
You can watch the full episode of House of Football featuring Olivia O’Toole below.
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- Everything you need to know about the Women’s World Cup: Teams, groups, fixtures, dates, venues
- Ireland’s pre-World Cup match abandoned after 20 minutes due to ‘overly physical play’
- “She’s quite blunt, straight to the point” – Stephanie Zambra speaks about working under Ireland manager Vera Pauw.