Oz-bound Kerry star has strong links to Skibbereen

April 27th, 2023 2:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Julie O'Sullivan.

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A KERRY footballer with very strong links to Skibbereen will play with the Sydney Swans in the upcoming AFLW season. 

Tousist native Julie O’Sullivan (21) was one of Kerry’s top performers in 2022 as the Kingdom enjoyed a resurgent season that saw them contest the All-Ireland senior final, and her band of supporters in Skibbereen have watched her rise with pride.

Julie’s mother Sinead (née O’Donovan) is from Skibbereen, and is the younger sister to Jim, Gene and Mike O’Donovan who have all been involved with O’Donovan Rossa GAA Club. Sinead also has two sisters living locally, Siobhan and Eileen.


GAA is king with the O’Donovans, and Gene is the current Skibb senior football manager and his son Dylan – Julie’s cousin – is on the team, as are several of her many cousins including Donal Óg Hodnett, who was previously on the Cork senior football panel, Eoin O’Donovan and Jack O’Brien. 

The football genes are strong in the O’Donovans, and Julie’s mother, Sinead – a proud O’Donovan Rossa supporter, her daughter says – played football with Ilen Rovers before, as there was no ladies team in Skibb. Sinead also lined out at underage inter-county level with Cork, playing U16 and minor before she crossed the county bounds to Kerry. There was no chance Sinead would wear the Kerry jersey, Julie laughs. Julie’s younger brother Donnacha is also making waves in Kerry football, and is involved with their U16s.

‘I would have spent a lot of time in Skibb when I was young, playing in whatever challenge games I could with my cousins,’ Julie told The Southern Star. 

‘Myself and my twin Emma would have done Cúl Camps in Skibbereen and have lots of good memories of fun times there.’

Julie will make history when she joins up with the Sydney Swans. She, along with her inter-county team-mate Paris McCarthy from Castleisland who has also joined the Swans, will become the first two Kerry women to play in the AFLW.

The Swans unveiled Julie’s signing along with Paris McCarthy and Roscommon footballer Jennifer Higgins, as the Irish influence in the Australian league grows. Cork footballer Erika O’Shea, from Macroom, played with North Melbourne last season, and will return to the club after this year’s All-Ireland championship.

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