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'We can take positives for Ukraine game' - Denis O'Sullivan focused on Euro vision

Germany 3 Ireland 0

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Denise O’Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile

Denise O’Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Denise O’Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile

It was during the first break of play in Saturday's Euro qualifier, just past the half-hour mark, when Ruesha Littlejohn encapsulated Ireland's task against the best team in Europe.

An impromptu gathering of players near the Irish bench at the Stadion Essen was used to take on much-needed water and gain some feedback from Vera Pauw.

The Ireland boss had her Dutch compatriot Jan Willem Ede's voice in her earpiece conveying messages from the stand. He might be a goalkeeping coach but it was clear Germany were profiting from the spaces vacated by Ireland's midfield.

"I'm left marking two of their players," hollered Littlejohn, visibly fatigued by the hosts' early forays. Alongside Brighton and Hove Albion pair Megan Connolly and Denise O'Sullivan, the midfield had been overrun.

Numerical

While it seemed the Germans had numerical supremacy, their slick passing and movement - starting from goalkeeper Merle Frohms - dissected their opponents at will.

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Ireland's Aine O'Gorman in action against Marina Hegering of Germany. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland's Aine O'Gorman in action against Marina Hegering of Germany. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Aine O'Gorman in action against Marina Hegering of Germany. Photo: Sportsfile

By the point of that sideline chat, the eight-time champions were leading through Marina Hegering's eighth-minute header.

A couple more approaching the break from the mercurial Dzsenifer Marozsan and Lea Schuller could have opened the floodgates but Ireland consolidated in the second half.

"I never expected us to get anything from the Germany match," admitted O'Sullivan afterwards. "I've played against some top teams in the United States but Germany have brilliant technical ability to go with their pace and power.

"It seemed they had an overload of players on us in the first half on Saturday, giving the passer plenty of options.

"Our game-plan wasn't for me to drop deep but Germany just drag you all over the pitch.

"We got better at dealing with them in the second half and I think we can take positives into the Ukraine game."

Ireland have to play Germany again at Tallaght on December 1 but, given the gap in quality evident on Saturday, all roads lead to Kiev on October 23.

A blistering start to the group, including a 3-2 win over Ukraine in Tallaght last October, lifted them to the summit but staying there come the business end of the campaign was never realistic.

Instead, one point against Ukraine will copperfasten second place with the last game to spare.

Conceding a late equaliser in Greece last November diminished Ireland's chance of grabbing one of the three places available for second-placed teams at the 2022 finals in England.

"We will travel to Ukraine confident of the three points," added O'Sullivan, who recently joined Brighton and Hove Albion on loan.

"Since we beat Ukraine in Vera's first game, the squad has really grown. The week of training we had in Duisburg leading up to Saturday's game will be of huge benefit for the Ukraine match."

At least the Cork native won't have to navigate transatlantic trips for the rest of the year.

"I asked (North Carolina) Courage about going on loan because I would have had to spend several weeks in quarantine after the internationals," the 26-year-old reasons. "I had to do two weeks of it after arriving in England but it's all done now.

"Saturday's game was my first full 90 minutes in a few months, so I was feeling wrecked afterwards. But I'm excited about a busy few weeks ahead for Brighton and Ireland."

Germany - Frohms; Hendrich, Hegering, Oberdorf, Gwinn (Maier 35); Magull, Marozsan (Lohmann 80), Leupolz (Dabritz 63); Huth, Popp, Schuller.

Ireland - Hourihan; Caldwell, Quinn, Fahey, O'Gorman; Connolly, Littlejohn, O'Sullivan; McCabe, Jarrett, Kiernan (Payne 63).

Ref - Monika Mularczyk (Poland)

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