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English loan move to ensure O'Sullivan's availability for crucial Ireland games

Ireland boss Vera Pauw has revealed that the midfielder will leave North Carolina Courage temporarily.

Denise O'Sullivan in possession for Ireland during last March's win against Greece at Tallaght Stadium.
Denise O'Sullivan in possession for Ireland during last March's win against Greece at Tallaght Stadium.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DENISE O’SULLIVAN IS set to make a loan move to England until the end of 2020.

Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw has revealed that O’Sullivan will join international team-mates Megan Connolly and Rianna Jarrett at Women’s Super League club Brighton & Hove Albion.

The 26-year-old is currently playing in the USA with North Carolina Courage, who rewarded her with a multi-year contract extension last November.

However, the reigning NWSL champions have permitted O’Sullivan to make a temporary move closer to home in order to ensure that the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions don’t impact her availability for Ireland’s upcoming European Championship qualifiers.

Ireland’s bid to qualify for Euro 2021 – a tournament which has been postponed until July 2022 due to the pandemic – resumes away to Germany on 19 September. A trip to Ukraine will follow on 23 October, before the campaign concludes with the visit of the Germans on 1 December.

“I’m so happy and grateful that North Carolina has seen the huge problems that Denise O’Sullivan would have if they were to keep her there for their next range of games,” Pauw said this morning after naming O’Sullivan in a 30-strong squad for next month’s fixture in Essen.

“They have allowed her to go on loan and she’s going to Brighton with Rianna Jarrett and Megan Connolly. That’s great to have all three in the same club.

“I’m so grateful that North Carolina saw that this period for Ireland is so important that they let her go for these months, when initially it was a no-go.

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“I explained the situation to them… she would have been in quarantine for six weeks and for a top athlete this is not feasible at all.”

O’Sullivan has been a key player for the Courage since joining the club from Houson Dash in 2017. When they won the NWSL Championship in 2018 and retained it last year, the Knocknaheeny native was named their MVP (Most Valuable Player) for both seasons.

“Paul Riley, her coach, is an amazing person, and I’m so grateful that he has seen it, that we could discuss it, and he took the decision to influence the management of North Carolina to let her go for these three months.

“It’s so important for Ireland and they all saw the importance of Denise for Ireland,” added Pauw, who’s aiming to guide the Girls in Green to qualification for a major tournament for the first time.

Although their upcoming opponents have a game in hand, Ireland are currently a point ahead of Germany at the top of Group I after taking four wins and a draw from their opening five qualifiers.

O’Sullivan’s move to Brighton will see her play in England for the first time in her career. In addition to lining out in the US, she has had spells in Scotland and Australia since taking her career abroad in 2013.

Brighton, who finished ninth in the WSL last season, are due to begin their 2020-21 campaign at home to Birmingham City on Sunday week.

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Paul Dollery

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