CORK City Women’s FC have booked their place in the senior cup final on December 12 against Peamount.
A 2-0 win on Sunday against Treaty while Peamount overcame Wexford, gave the City players a lot to be cheerful about and one player, in particular, was former Limerick player Sophie Liston.
The City winger came up against many of her former teammates and friends on Sunday but that didn’t stop her celebrating as she helped her side to reach her first Senior Cup final.
“It was an overwhelming feeling at the final whistle to know that I will get to play in a senior cup final at the age of 18,” said Liston.
“To be honest it was a sweeter victory when you get to play your former team.
“We came into today’s game with a different mentality. As opposed to league games, I felt we were more up for this game knowing there was a spot in the cup final to be won.
“I am thrilled and looking forward to the final.”
Liston joined City over a year ago from Limerick.
“My decision to leave Limerick was the opportunity to play with the U17 team. When at Limerick, I was needed for the senior team but as a young player I felt that playing at my own age would have benefited me more, and Cork City gave me the opportunity to play with the U17s and with the seniors the odd day.
"Playing with City has been the biggest experience for me as the players and management around me are so supportive. I’m really learning my trade in the game since I moved I love it.”
Liston began playing at a very young age with Newcastle West and although she dabbled at a lot of sports, her love for soccer always came to the forefront. At the age of 14 she decided it was time to focus on just one sport.
“From the age of 10 to 14 I enjoyed a successful period with Newcastle winning numerous of leagues. I then moved to AK United where I won a league and Munster Cup. At U17 level then I moved to Limerick FC to play in the National League. That was a big step up from club but it didn’t take long to adjust and I am loving it ever since.”
Having featured for Limerick in Gaynor tournaments, Liston was always a huge prospect, and through her performances, led her to her international career.
“I started my international career at U15s where we made history for Ireland beating England. I came into the field on the 29th minute hit the crossbar with a header and my City teammate Zara Foley made it 1-0 for us with a superb free-kick.
"England then made it 1-1. In the dying minutes, I scored the winner to secure the 2-1 win of the John Reed cup for the first time at that age group for Ireland.
“I then had trials for the U16 Irish team but didn’t make the panel which was devastating but I chinned up and worked harder and was eventually called into the panel that travelled to Sweden for the U16 tournament."
She made the starting 11 and after the first game collected the Player of the Game.
"That was a huge moment for me. I’ve since made the U17 panel and U19 panel. The dream is of wearing the Irish jersey for the senior team someday so that’s the aim.”
Liston’s love of football came from her family, and it’s very evident from her parents' ever-present support, that she will make it to the top given her dedication and desire.
“For me my parents are everything. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support. They are the driving force behind me, they push me to the limit.
"Everything I’ve ever asked for they have given to me and I can’t thank them enough. I travel and train in Cork two to three times a week as it is hard my parents having to juggle me with three other children involved in sports. They always find a way to manage the four of us and I’m very grateful for that.
“Apart from my parents, I must mention Declan Considine who has been with me from the very start and always puts me on the right path. He took me in during the lockdown for a couple of sessions and he treated me like a daughter of his own.
"I’m still learning but there is always room for improvement and I’d like to thank Barbara Birmingham who has also been a massive help for me getting to where I am with her brilliant advice always. To me, they are the two best FAI Development Officers Limerick could ever ask for.”
Liston’s plan next year is to hopefully secure a scholarship to play in the States. A dream of hers for a long time.
I would imagine that will be a devastating loss to her parents, who are at every training session and every game, but they'll support her as they always do.
For now, the focus is on the cup final and on December 12, the pacy winger will be a key figure for Ronan Collins’ side.