'She is a pocket battleship with skill, vision, and a heart the size of a lion'

Cork maestro Denise O'Sullivan signs a new deal with North Carolina Courage
'She is a pocket battleship with skill, vision, and a heart the size of a lion'

Denise O'Sullivan, left, and Katie McCabe during a Republic of Ireland training session. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

CORK'S Denise O’Sullivan has signed a new two-year contract with the North Carolina Courage with the option to extend her stay in the United States of America for a further year at the end of that deal.

The Republic of Ireland international, who was won 80 caps and scored 11 goals for her country, has been a key member of the club’s midfield since making the move there in 2017.

She was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player by her teammates in 2018 and 2019 - helping them end both campaigns with the league title - while she also recorded the second-most minutes on the pitch for the Courage during that 2019 season.

And speaking shortly after O’Sullivan signed her new deal, Head Coach Paul Riley hailed the impact the Knocknaheeny born playmaker has had on his side.

“Sully has been an integral part of our club’s success,” Riley told the club’s official website.

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 and the North Carolina Courage were looking to add to the club’s back-to-back National Women’s Soccer League Championship triumphs in 2020.

But the outbreak of the Coronavirus would have a major impact and forced the usual structure of the competition to change dramatically.

Rather than taking its usual format, it would instead be a shortened Challenge Cup to be played entirely in Utah, where they would quarantine in a hotel, from June 27 to July 26.

DISAPPOINTMENT

The Courage’s hopes of claiming a third title in a row would end abruptly as they crashed out at the quarter-final stage but with her long-term future now secure, she will be hoping they can reclaim their crown in 2021.

“That (defeat) was very surprising for us,” O’Sullivan recently told the Echo.

“We were expected to go in there and win that tournament but it happened, we just lost the game.

“Going in there as champions and all the pressure was on us everyone wanted to beat us, no team likes us in the league but that gives us motivation.

“It was disappointing not to win it but our mentality and our culture at the Courage is to grow every day and to get better as a team, hopefully, we’ll do that this year.”

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