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Denise O'Sullivan Praises "Little Gem" Larkin After Explosive Cameo

Denise O'Sullivan Praises "Little Gem" Larkin After Explosive Cameo
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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Though it was ultimately heartbreak for Ireland against Australia in the World Cup opener, there were plenty of reasons for Vera Pauw's side to be optimistic as they look ahead to the next two games of Group B.

Katie McCabe may have [somewhat unjustly] become public enemy number one in Australia, but she rightly earned widespread praise elsewhere for a battling performance on the left flank.

One of the biggest positives for Ireland, however, was the impact of the substitutes introduced late in the game.

After some provocative comments from Australian coach Tony Gustavsson questioned Ireland's ability to last the distance in big games, the impact of Abbie Larkin and Lucy Quinn off the bench contributed majorly to a strong finish for the Girls in Green.

The performance of Larkin was particularly impressive, especially given the Shamrock Rovers player is only 18-years-old. Her direct running and forward play created numerous chances, and she has put her hat in the ring to start Wednesday's game against Canada.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport from Australia, another of Thursday's top performers Denise O'Sullivan praised her teammate, and said that she was delighted that her generation were getting these opportunities at such a young age.

READ HERE: Watch: Stephen Byrne Vlogs Ireland's Opener V Australia


Ireland WNT: Denise O'Sullivan on Abbie Larkin


Abbie Larkin only made her debut for Ireland last year, before she had established herself as a senior player with Shelbourne.

In the year since, she has signed for Shamrock Rovers, as well as becoming a contender to start for Ireland at a World Cup.

20 July 2023; Abbie Larkin of Republic of Ireland during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Group B match between Australia and Republic of Ireland at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It has been an extraordinary rise, and her senior teammate Denise O'Sullivan praised her this week for her impact off the bench against Australia:

I have to give credit to the subs that came into the game the other night, they made a massive impact. They changed the rhythm of the game for us.

The whole bench is hugely important in this tournament.

[Abbie has] no fear. She's a little gem, Abbie. I've been saying it in training leading up to this game, she's a different player. She's been excellent.

Coming into the game, it was a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old, your first World Cup game. She took it in her stride and came on and she was absolutely fantastic. I'm really, really happy for her.

Much of Ireland's hope for this World Cup rests on the shoulders of North Carolina Courage captain O'Sullivan, who recovered from a pre-tournament injury scare to start against Australia.

29-year-old O'Sullivan has played for Ireland for 12 years, and has earned her spot as part of the squad for the Girls in Green's first tournament appearance.

O'Sullivan said that she was grateful that improved investment and support for the women's game in Ireland would hopefully provide these opportunities more regularly for Abbie Larkin's generation going forward:


It was tough back then. I don't think we had as many resources and facilities as we have now, or investment.

I would have dreamed to be at a World Cup when I was 18-years-old, but it just wasn't possible back then. Always in the back of my mind, I had that belief that some day I was going to make it to a World Cup.

I'm just really grateful that I'm here with this group of players. Some of them I've been playing with [for] ten plus years - it's great to be on this journey with them.

Ireland's next game of the World Cup comes on Wednesday afternoon at 1pm against Olympic champions Canada. After the Canadians' 0-0 draw against Nigeria, the Irish side will be buoyed by the knowledge that a result will give them a huge chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

SEE ALSO: Australia Coach Admits Attempted Deception Over Fitness Of Sam Kerr

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