Nathalie O'Brien on the highs and lows of a decade with Cork City and her World Cup plans

City's longest-serving player recently departed Turner's Cross
Nathalie O'Brien on the highs and lows of a decade with Cork City and her World Cup plans

Nathalie O'Brien gave incredible service to Cork City. Picture: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

LOOKING forward to having her freedom back is a big positive according to recently departed Cork City player Nathalie O’Brien.

The 30-year-old defender decided to leave City this week after 11 years with the club realising it was her time to go, as she now looks forward to more free time.

“I think I just knew it was time,” said O’Brien. "It’s been playing on my mind for a long time and I knew it was time when I stopped putting in the work outside of training and matches. 

"I’m a player who likes to give 100% commitment as I’ve always had to work that bit harder to stay on top of the game. When I stopped doing that, I knew it was coming towards the end.

“I’ve been with City since 2012. Honestly, it’s probably been one of the best times of my life. The memories I’ve made since being with City, all the highs and lows. 

"All the friends I made from being involved with City. I got to play with probably Ireland’s best female player in Denise O’Sullivan during my first year at City. 

"We grew up together playing at Wilton and then to play with each other at City for one season; it was special. And to play with some great players like Clare Shine and Saoirse Noonan.

"The high has to be the Aviva 2017, hands down. Getting to play in this amazing stadium with my friends, winning the cup, and seeing all my family members make the trip up. I’ll never forget that feeling. 

"The lowest has to be when we were losing every game for a few seasons, I always stayed hoping things would get better and thankfully it did.” 

Admitting it is a huge commitment, O’Brien does not regret the time she gave to the sport she loves but is looking forward to exploring other avenues, with bear in mind, still a World Cup to look forward to.

“It is a lot of commitment. Three nights of football and a match a weekend with my own training outside of that, which I needed to keep doing to stay on top of the game.  I barely had any time to see family and friends during the season and couldn’t do too much at the weekends as I was preparing or else recovering.

“I now plan on spending lots of time with my family and friends, loads of catching up to do. 

I’m looking forward to having my free weekends back and being able to go for a spin whenever I want to.

“People assume I will play locally but being honest with you, I haven’t thought about any of that for the time being. I am definitely keeping my options open but I won’t be deciding on anything for a while as I want to enjoy the free time for now.

"I loved the training sessions with City, but I used to be a bag of nerves every game we had as I hated making mistakes. And mistakes made in the WNL, you are more than likely to be punished! I think that’ll be all gone if I decide to play at local level again but then again, I’m not thinking about it for the time being."

Growing up, she started off playing with Kilreen Celtic boys before moving to Wilton FC. She then followed her dad to St Mary’s FC before going to America on a scholarship. After a year, I came back to join Cork in 2012.


“I recently went to Sweden with Doncaster to play in DCL (Deaf Champions League) and it was an amazing experience. Playing some Futsal against some quality players and experiencing the deaf culture. It’s always a great experience.

Football For All International Player of the Year Nathalie O'Brien with her award. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Football For All International Player of the Year Nathalie O'Brien with her award. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

“The upcoming World Cup is in November and it’ll be held in Brazil. We are absolutely buzzing for this. Not many people can say they’ll be looking forward to playing Futsal in Futsal heaven in Brazil. We can’t wait for it.” 

So while she’s hanging up her boots at National League level, O’Brien plans on staying in touch with City’s progress.

There’s a great bunch there at the moment. A lot of gems. 

"I think it’ll be hard for them but they’ll definitely get a few results as they gain more and more experience. 

"I’m looking forward to seeing their journey from the side as I think there’s a few players in that team will be on the Irish senior panel in a few years - they are that good."

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