Denise O’Sullivan wearing the jersey of Wilton United and Megan Connolly wearing the jersey of College Corinthians AFC. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

History makers

The drama over Denise O’Sullivan’s injury and the controversies over Vera Pauw’s coaching style have almost threatened to overshadow the first game of the Women’s World Cup.

Cork midfielder Denise O'Sullivan is a key player but she is likely to be able to start against Australia in Thursday's World Cup game in Sydney. That’s according to her sister, who must have the inside track!

Ever since O'Sullivan sustained a shin injury during last Friday's behind-closed-doors game against Colombia, the buildup has been dominated by this. And perhaps that’s no bad thing if it takes the pressure off the players.

Australia are hosts and one of the favourites and boast one of the global stars of the game in striker Sam Kerr of Chelsea. They have recently beaten two of the top five teams in the world too, besting France 1-0 last Friday.

If things had been different, she might have been playing for the Republic of Ireland.

Her grandfatther was from Mourneabbey near Mallow.

And fellow Matildas striker Tessa Fowler, who play for Man City, has a Dublin-born mother.

Ireland’s group also contains Olympic champions Canada who are stronger in women’s soccer than their men are, and the best African team, Cameroon. Some have called Ireland’s group the group of the death in this newly expanded Women’s World Cup. It is now up to 32 countries with Zambia, Haiti and Portugal among those appearing for the first time.

Australia did lose 1-0 to Scotland in the spring, so there is hope even if the co-hosts are playing better now. Ireland, of course, beat Scotland in a playoff to make the finals.

This is a huge tournament for women’s soccer in Ireland and women’s sport in general. It is set to be the most watch stand alone women’s sporting event ever.

Lots of places are putting on special events to celebrate this huge event. One of the best ones is not for this game but for the following game against Canada.

The Munster Football Association in partnership with Cork City Council are opening up Turner’s Cross to host a watch party on Wednesday 26 July. Gates will open at noon ahead of the 1pm kick off. A big screen will be positioned on the pitch facing the Donie Ford Stand which holds up to 2,000 spectators. What a great idea!

This week we have loads of content on the Women’s World Cup including an interview with Denise’s sister, previews, coverage of the various events on for games and an interview with Danny Murphy, the newly appointed and first ever Head of Women’s Football at Cork City FC.

Tomorrow will be truly special but it will be a very tough opener. A point would be fantastic but this team has the potential to cause some shocks. In an easier group, I’d be quite hopeful of them getting into the knockouts, but let’s see what happens.

Whatever happens, they are heroes! #COYGIG