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"I want to keep improving as a player and a person"

Atlantic Scholarships caught up with Ireland and North Carolina Courage starlet Denise O'Sullivan. The 2019 FAI Senior Women's International talks all things football and life growing up in Cork before moving to the US.

Denise has represented her country on 77 occasions and scored in 11 of those appearances.

You've had an incredibly established career to date. Talk us through your first memories of kicking a ball

For me I started playing football at a young age. I had to play with a boys team up until I was 12 years old. It was an interesting time because women's football was still growing in Cork so I learnt to adapt my game quickly in that environment. I think it helped me massively.

I then joined local club Wilton United before signing for Cork City in the National Women's League. I enjoyed a very good season with Cork and Peamount United asked the club if I could be made available on a loan deal. Peamount were just after qualifying for the Champions League so for me that was the level I wanted to play at. Both clubs came to an agreement and my dream of playing Champions League football came true. I made three appearances in that years tournament.

O'Sullivan then moved onto Glasgow City before making the move to America in 2016 to join up with Houston Dash. After 29 appearances with the dash, O'Sullivan moved to pastures new when joining North Carolina Courage where she is currently perfecting her craft.

How have you found moving to the US?

When I first moved to America I found it very tough. I moved away from home a few weeks after my dad passed away. It was a huge challenge for me to leave my mum and family at such a tough time. My teammates once I arrived were extremely supportive and helped me a lot.

I absolutely love North Carolina. The club is doing well and growing each year. The fans love their soccer and with the area being surrounded by some very good universities we tend to get a lot of students attending the games.

I'm very settled here now, my teammates and coaches are like my family away from home. It's been a blessing coming to NC (North Carolina)

How have you found the standard of play in the NWSL?

The standard of play in the country currently is the highest it's ever been. Players are technically very good and have a fantastic understanding of the game. The biggest change for me was the physicality of the league. Players are now athletically strong, quick and fit.

The game itself is very transitional, so you don't have much rest periods during a game. I think there's a lot more ground covered in the game here compared to in Europe.

Due to that players have less time on the ball so it's one or two touch before you're closed down.

Do you know much about the collegiate scene and would you advise young aspiring players to explore the option of playing in the US?

College sports is massive in America and where I am living there's some of the most distinguished programmes across America. I have a couple of friends who have gone down the road of securing a scholarship to a university and they all speak so highly of their experience.

I would advice any young athlete to definitely consider the option of moving. Soccer has never been so competitive and exciting in the country as it currently is and it's continuing to grow. I'm continuing to learn everyday and grow as a player.

What has the near future got in store for you?

My biggest goal is to qualify for the 2022 European Championships with Ireland. We're on track to do that and all going well we'll be on the flight to England.

With the courage I want to just keep improving and learning from the best. I'm very fortunate to be in such a professional environment where the players, coaches and staff members are world class.

For me I want to just keep improving as a player and a person.

Denise O'Sullivan
Denise O'Sullivan



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