Huge moment for Saoirse Noonan when she got call to say she was in the senior Irish squad

Huge moment for Saoirse Noonan when she got call to say she was in the senior Irish squad

Saoirse Noonan, Cork City celebrates her second goal against Treaty United during their Women's FAI cup semi-final at Curraheen, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

SAOIRSE NOONAN was in the car with her younger sister when she heard the news that she long craved.

Over four years since she was called up to Sue Ronan’s senior squad for a couple of challenge matches against Wales, the City striker was informed that she was again named in the Ireland national team squad but this time for a hugely important Euro 2022 qualifier against Germany.

“I actually missed Rónán’s call because I was in college on Monday night. 

"I rang him back at about 8 o’clock and he said that Vera was going to name me in her next squad,” Noonan told the Echo.

“It was huge for me, I just wanted to get home and tell the family. 

"My sister and I, we both had tears in our eyes, we were over the moon.

“This was something all of us talked about...playing for Ireland. 

"We often watch their matches together so now I can be apart of it is really something special for my family.

“But then I had to keep it ‘hush-hush’ because it wasn’t getting officially announced until the next day.

“I put the phone on flight mode in work on Tuesday and when I turned it on I don’t think it knew what was going on, it was just going off so much.” 

The news came swiftly after Noonan enjoyed a remarkable weekend which saw her score the winning goal for the Cork Ladies Footballers against Kerry on Saturday before netting a brace to send Cork City past Treaty United and through to the Women’s FAI Cup final on Sunday.

Saoirse Noonan of Cork celebrates after scoring a late point during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Round 2 match between Cork and Kerry at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Saoirse Noonan of Cork celebrates after scoring a late point during the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship Round 2 match between Cork and Kerry at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

This coming weekend will be similarly busy for the 21-year-old as she will feature for City against Peamount on Saturday - a dress rehearsal for that Cup final - before lining up for Cork against Cavan on Sunday.

“Another exciting weekend to come,” she adds.

“Every player wants to play for Ireland, every player wants to play at the top level. What more could you ask for than wearing the green jersey and representing your country?

“I’m in good condition right now and I am really, really enjoying playing football and soccer.

“With everything going on the last few months, I try to take it day by day. I’m going to enjoy today and look forward to the weekend playing for Cork G.A.A and Cork City and I’ll go from there.” 

There may come a time in the future when the dual star will be required to pick a sport to solely focus on but current Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw insists she won’t be influencing that decision.

“Let’s first see how she develops,” said Pauw at the official announcement of her squad.

“The thing is young players have a heart in their sport, they have a heart in their game. 

"The moment that you make the step up and you cannot cope anymore with combining (the two), that’s the moment that you need to choose.

“I will be the last one to say you have to stop playing. What I will do is if she is getting injuries, if the pressure is getting too high, if she doesn’t have recovery time anymore, if she needs to focus more, that is the only moment to discuss what do you want with your sport.

“I will be the last one to say you have to stop with one sport. The only thing that I will do is discuss with her how she feels, how she sees her future, and how she wants to dedicate herself.

"She has been on my radar for a long time, of course, it's not that she had a good weekend and was then selected.

“She was already on the fringe and we have been discussing and following her already for a while. I didn't even know how she performed last weekend because she was already on the list based on her performances before.

"But it is great when you put her on the list and then you see how well she performs. Playing two sports and just being so natural and so clinical about it is amazing. 

"The planning of her is amazing and that is why she has been so successful.” 

Noonan is joined in the 31-player Irish squad by clubmate Éabha O’Mahony and although the latter has been impressive for City in the heart of the midfield, Pauw sees her having a different role in her side.

“She is selected as a defender, as a left defender,” insisted Pauw.

“I’m in contact with her coach and we have been discussing her development as a midfielder. At club level, her team needs her as a midfielder and she is doing well. 

"But at International level, her talents are more as a left defender.

Eabha O'Mahony of Cork City and Peamount United's Eleanor Ryan Doyle tussle for possession during the FAI Womens National League game at Bishopstown. Pic Doug Minihane
Eabha O'Mahony of Cork City and Peamount United's Eleanor Ryan Doyle tussle for possession during the FAI Womens National League game at Bishopstown. Pic Doug Minihane

“There’s not a discussion with the coach to put her as a left defender because for her development it’s best to be challenged at the position where the team needs you and her team needs her in midfield so she is actually developing really fast there.

“But for International level, we take her highest talent at the highest pressure and that is left defender for her.

“If I look at myself at club level, apart from the last few years I always played centre midfield but for the national team, I was playing right full-back and later centre defender.

“That experience I take with me because if I played centre defender or right full-back at my club, I would not have developed in the way that I did so that is the same with her.”

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