Wearing No 10 is futile unless you’re operating as one. Denise O’Sullivan’s smile was as wide as the Danube River when asked after Tuesday's 4-0 trouncing over Hungary about her preferred position.
“Can you tell?” she beamed in Budapest. “No. 10 is my natural position. That’s where I thrive, dipping into those spaces.
“Sometimes you don’t get on the ball for 10 minutes but that’s the role of the 10. You must be selfless at times and create space for others but I love it.”
Katie McCabe concurs. Ireland’s other world-class player has yearned to see O’Sullivan’s prowess utilised.
“Denise O’Sullivan is one of the best pocket players in the world, in my opinion,” she said of the Corkwoman, still the lynchpin at North Carolina as captain and link between midfield and attack.
All those smiles, happy faces and platitudes would seem to derive from an obvious deployment of players into optimal positions but the undercurrent is the change of environment.
Words such as freedom, liberation and unleashed were previously non-existent.
By the time Vera Pauw realised where O’Sullivan was most effective at the World Cup, her tenure as Ireland was in its twilight.
The player didn’t shy away from what she branded her below par performances against Australia and Canada, noting how the deeper, holding midfield role suppressed her impact.
Against Nigeria on July 31, when Ireland were already out, the best of the centurion was there to be admired.
Caretaker boss Eileen Gleeson could appreciate O’Sullivan was being the best version of herself that night in Brisbane.
Ireland can’t afford to inhibit their best assets, especially when the margins around qualification are so thin.
And so since Saturday, we’ve witnessed the 29-year-old’sRead on irishexaminer.com