Sunday 25 February 2018

O'Sullivan on World mission after proving class in Bundesliga

John Fallon

AFTER laying down roots in the German league she rates as the best in the world, Fiona O'Sullivan wants to go one better by representing Ireland at the World Cup.

The San Francisco-born striker, who declared for Ireland through her Bantry-born father, will win her 23rd cap in tonight's friendly against Austria at Tallaght Stadium (7.30).

This game is the final warm-up for Sue Ronan's side before they embark on their 2015 World Cup qualifying group, which starts in September with the visit of Slovakia.

With captain Ciara Grant retiring after the last campaign, Ronan wants her experienced cohort – that includes 26-year-old O'Sullivan – to help integrate the youngsters into the team.

The forward moved from the United States to Sweden and then Germany, via a stint in France.

She's just been rewarded for an impressive debut season in the Bundesliga with a contract extension by SC Freiburg and O'Sullivan is now hoping to bring that quality on to the international stage.

"The Bundesliga has become the strongest league in Europe. The standard of games is high every week," she said.

"I came back from an injury late in the season to play for SC Freiburg so I'm feeling in good shape for this game against Austria.

"Although we started the last campaign well, results went against us later. We'll be hoping to improve for these qualifiers. It will be a marathon, not a sprint."

For Ireland manager Ronan, the game provides a chance to experiment with some new talent.

Some of that change is enforced, though, as Grant's retirement was followed by news that her Arsenal team-mate Niamh Fahey tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

That rules the Galway native out of Ireland's first three qualifiers against Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia. Ronan indicated yesterday she'll aim to have her midfielder back for the home tie against Germany next April.

Irish Independent

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