Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Brighton bound: Denise O'Sullivan.
crossing the pond

'One of the most gifted and complete midfielders in world soccer' - Ireland star's English loan move confirmed

Denise O’Sullivan’s North Carolina Courage boss was full of praise for the Cork woman ahead of her temporary switch to Brighton & Hove Albion.

DENISE O’SULLIVAN’S LOAN move to England until the end of 2020 has been confirmed by her US club North Carolina Courage.

Ireland manager Vera Pauw recently revealed that the Girls In Green midfield maestro would join Brighton & Hove Albion, linking up with international team-mates Megan Connolly and Rianna Jarrett at the Women’s Super League side.

Having signed a multi-year contract with the reigning American champions last November, O’Sullivan now makes the temporary move closer to home to ensure that Covid-19 restrictions don’t impact her availability for Ireland’s upcoming European Championship qualifiers.

And Courage confirmed today that the Cork native’s loan will run until 31 December 2020, with Pauw’s Ireland due to face Germany twice and Ukraine in crucial qualifiers between now and then.

As always, Paul Riley was full of praise for the Knocknaheeny star — who will be available to make her Brighton debut against Manchester City on Sunday.

“O’Sullivan will change Brighton’s whole way of playing,” he said. “She has a massive impact on tactics because she controls the tempo, dictates the tempo and her job functions are multi-faceted.

She is the first player on the team sheet every week in Courage Country and she has left an indelible mark on our younger players through her training habits, game preparation rituals and her magical mindset which sets her apart from most professional players.

“She is a fantastic player and we understand she has some huge games coming up for her country that she must play in and therefore we felt it was in the best interests of player safety and player development that we put her on loan so quarantine restrictions would not deny her the ability to fully train and prepare for our 2021 season.”

O’Sullivan has been a central player at North Carolina since joining from Houston Dash in 2017, excelling when they won the NWSL Championship in 2018 and retained it last year. She was named MVP (Most Valuable Player) both seasons.

Now, she plays in England for the first time in her career after stints in Scotland and Australia since leaving these shores in 2013.

Screenshot 2020-09-09 at 18.09.28 NC Courage. NC Courage.

International duty is crucially important for O’Sullivan, who has been named in Pauw’s Ireland squad for the top-of-the-group clash against Germany on Saturday, 19 December.

Unbeaten and top of Group I — although with a game more played than their next opponents — this comes as the side’s biggest challenge yet. And Riley backs O’Sullivan to sparkle, as always.

“Brighton will be a great home for her and we wish her all the best for her loan club and country as she continues to identify herself as one of the most gifted and complete midfielders in world soccer,” he added.

Brighton, who finished ninth in the WSL last season, opened their 2020/21 campaign with a 2-0 home win over Birmingham City on Sunday, and Connolly was on target in that one. Next up is a trip to City on Sunday. 

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