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'The engine room, architect, inspiration and leader' - Ireland star extends stay at US champions

Cork’s Denise O’Sullivan has re-signed with North Carolina Courage.

IRELAND’S MIDFIELD MAESTRO Denise O’Sullivan has signed a new multi-year contract with her US side, North Carolina Courage.

O’Sullivan — along with team-mate Abbe Erceg — has put pen to paper on a new two-year contract, with the option of a third for the 2023 season, having been instrumental for the Courage over the past few years.

denise o'sullivan New deals: Denise O'Sullivan and team-mate Abby Erceg. Source: North Carolina Courage.

The Cork native has been “a linchpin in the midfield,” as the club say, helping them secure back-to-back National Women’s Soccer League [NWSL] Championship crowns and three NWSL shields on the bounce.

O’Sullivan is also a back-to-back MVP at the club she first joined in 2017, voted best player by her team-mates in 2018 and 2019. She logged the second-most minutes on the field for the Courage during the 2019 season, and spent a stint in England with Brighton & Hove Albion in 2020 to facilitate her international duties amidst the pandemic.

The 27-year-old has certainly become a fan-favourite in North Carolina, and a favourite of manager Paul Riley too, earning so many glowing reviews through the years.

And having committed her future to the side, this one is no different:

“Sully has been an integral part of our club’s success,” said Riley.

She is the engine room, the architect, the inspiration and the leader of a very good midfield unit. Knowing Sully will be here for at least three more years will be music to the ears of all Courage fans. What a player she has developed into.

“She is a pocket battleship with skill, vision, and a heart the size of a lion. Nothing intimidates her, and her consistency is a huge reason for her massive success here. The future bodes well for the club when we can sign our best players to long-term contracts.”

O’Sullivan is also key player for Vera Pauw’s Girls In Green, and showed that she is nothing short of world-class in the recent Euro 2021 qualifying campaign.

With 80 international appearances and 11 goals to her name since her senior debut in 2011, O’Sullivan will again be pivotal as Ireland go in search of qualification for a first-ever major tournament later this year as the 2023 World Cup campaign begins.

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The Knocknaheeny woman has enjoyed a colourful career to date, having also had stints in Scotland and Australia since leaving these shores in 2013.

“Honestly no where else I rather be than this club,” O’Sullivan wrote on Twitter this evening. “So proud to have signed a new contract.”

O’Sullivan’s Courage side — where she’s joined by fellow Irish international Diane Caldwell — open their 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup bid against the Washington Spirit on Saturday, 10 April.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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